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Endangered Al Kidha needs protection

A fragrant symbol of biodiversity and culture in Oman

The Pandanus Odoratissimus tree, locally known as Al Kidha, holds significant importance in biodiversity and cultural symbolism. In the past, this fragrant tree used to grow naturally in abundance, but it has now become endangered due to uprooting. There is concern that without appropriate measures, the tree might face extinction. The Environment Authority is making efforts to promote conservation and expand awareness within the community to safeguard this precious tree.

The early Omanis have been familiar with this aromatic tree since ancient times, and it thrives in Al Batinah, Dhofar and Al Dakhiliyah governorates. Farmers uproot Al Kidha saplings from the mother tree to sell and cultivate them in other farms.

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The therapeutic and aromatic properties of Al Kidha tree have led locals to celebrate it, organising ceremonial dances and songs exclusively performed by women and girls. There is a symbolic connection between the tree and femininity; some see it as a representation of fertility and growth. Small shrubs grow around it, much like offshoots attached to a mother date palm tree.

Al Kidha tree offers numerous benefits; some utilise its fruits, and it serves as a remedy for certain skin conditions. Women also incorporate it into their skincare and haircare routines, applying it to their scalp and hair. Women embrace the tree's distinct fragrance during wedding preparations and celebrations, and it is used in creating exquisite perfumes.

An ancient belief suggests that Al Kidha tree brings happiness and optimism to the place where it is planted. This belief is especially strong among women in rural communities, where the tree is associated with fertility and reproduction. According to this belief, Al Kidha tree only grows when unmarried girls plant it. Over time, this belief evolved into celebratory ceremonies and traditional musical rituals performed by women, honouring the tree. The practice has been passed down through generations, and people take part in celebrating the planting process.

It takes a full year for Al Kidha tree to grow and bloom, usually during the middle of the Hijri month, precisely when the moon is full. At this time, Al Kidha flower emits a delightful fragrance that spreads throughout the area, adding to the charm and significance of this remarkable tree.

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