Muscat: Colours and fragrance fill the air at Al Ansab Wetland where winter sees the best of plants and trees bloom. The wetland has 113 species of Omani trees and shrubs.
“The wetland has been there since mid- to late 80s but it was not the way it is now. At that time, may be it was used for treating purposes. Since 2011, we started focusing more on it and made a lot of changes. It is now all treated water and therefore you do not have any smell in the wetland areas,” said Hussain Hassan Abdul Hussain, CEO of Haya Water.
“With the addition of shrubs and trees, we are attracting more birds. Initially, 150 bird species were reported. Now, it is more than 300.”
The wetland has five lagoons, the biggest of which has a depth of four metres. The water, besides attracting birds, also supports greenery.
Most of the trees and shrubs are naturally grown. But Haya Water team planted 300 trees to create a forest area, which have all grown and today provide extended shade. In the process, there have been other trees that have sprouted naturally such as banyan trees and date palms.
A little further away, adjacent to the nursery of the wetland, the team planted more trees.
“Near the nursery, we planted 170 trees from Dhofar and Jabal Akhdar, for example, olive trees from green mountains and frankincense tree from Dhofar. But the resin may not have the same fragrance as the ones collected in the Dhofar governorate because of the climatic conditions. Frankincense from these trees may not have the same quality,” said Mohammed al Barwani, Wetland Support Officer.
Henna enjoys a special place in addition to medicinal trees and shrubs. An example is the Moringa Peregrina, also referred to as Arabic Moringa, as it differs from the Indian Moringa.
“Traditionally, the oil extracted from this tree is used for skin and bone while others use it for cooking. In Dakhiliya, the leaves of this tree are used to cook Shuaa instead of the banana leaves,” said Al Barwani.
Most of the trees are fruit-bearing too, tempting one to pick fruits straight from the trees and some from the ground.
Four species of Acacia can be found in the wetland and the way to differentiate them is through their flowers, which are white, yellow and light pink.
“Acacia ehrenbergiana’s common name is Salam, Acacia Nilotica is known as Qarat and Acacia Tortilis Sumr,” noted Al Barwani.
“The name Salam Acacia can be traced back to hundreds of years as you can see the poets refer to it by the name in Arabic literature. So there is a reference to this desert plant in the history. However, it is mainly used for grazing,” said Salem Saidi from Haya Water.
The frankincense trees are currently flowering, so are most of the shrubs, plants and trees. So, this is also the best time to watch the butterflies and dragon flies.
A tree that stands out is the Delonix Elata. In this season, it sheds leaves, while its flowers stand out in white and yellow. Even the cactus are sprouting flowers this season.