Shagarat Al-Ghareeb (The Stranger’s Tree):Not just any tree [Archives:2003/632/Last Page]

April 21 2003

Farouq Al-Kamali
Located in Duba'a, 25 kilometers south of Taiz on the Turba-Taiz route, Shagarat Al-Ghareeb has always been a mystery and a source of imagination and inspiration for many. The 2000-year old tree has and continues to gain the attention and admiration of all who see it. With its gigantic dimensions and different types and sizes of leaves, it is unique and stands alone in isolation, which made it look like a stranger tree planted in the wrong place. This is why it was called “Shagarat Al-Ghareeb” – the Stranger's Tree.
Many families stop at the tree's site to spend a peaceful rest underneath its shadow while traveling. Other families arrange picnics beneath this huge tree to enjoy the shade and the serenity it generously offers.
In recent years, the tree has been attracting large numbers of tourists, who visit the tree and take pictures and video footage. Many of them express their fascination with this unique tree. This should be a driving force of encouragement for the concerned authorities to give the tree due importance so as to maintain this beautiful and rare landmark.
According to a study carried out by Mr. Nabil Obadi of the governmental Environment Protection Society (EPS) in Taiz, the tree's scientific name is “Adonsonia Aligitata” and is member of the “Bumba” family of trees of Africa. This species of trees ages back to 2,000 years ago. In Yemen, the tree is found commonly only in two places, Dauba'a and in Sharifa Village in Al-Dhale district.
Speaking of dimensions, the tree is about 15 meters high with a 3-meter diameter and a circumference of more than 15 meters. The leaves are large in size and the tree produces big white or yellowish flowers hanging from the branches and has strong fragrance. The trunk has an elephant-limp shape and is very sturdy.
According to a medical study, the tree's leaves could be used to cure cough, kidney pain, ulcers and insect bites. Its fruits are used for malaria treatment, smallpox, and chickenpox. The seeds are used to strengthen and activate the heart muscle, and could prevent tooth decay. Roots of the tree are used to cure various skin diseases.
The scientific, tourist, medical and cultural significance of the tree emphasize the need to protect and take good care of aging Shagarat Al-Ghareeb, especially as the tree is threatened by a number of dangers including mishandling by children who use various sharp tools to cut its branches and abuse it, and also the cultivation of the areas just around the tree for agricultural purposes, which could deplete water beneath the tree.
It is suggested in a study by the EPS that a metallic fence is to be constructed two meters away from the tree surrounding its trunk to prevent others from mishandling it. Another suggestion is to prevent farmers from growing greedy plants or weeds near the plant so as not to deprive it from water.
The society recommended that information signs be posted on the fence to provide historical and scientific background on the tree. Moreover, the area around the tree could be invested to encompass a cafe and stalls for recreation and relaxation, especially for foreign tourists. The society has already pledged that it plans to construct a 25 meters long fence around the tree and produce an instructive pamphlet about it and its importance.