Planting of Damas tree barred

 10 Jan 2017 - 4:07

Planting of Damas tree barred

By Huda NV / The Peninsula

A common tree with a complex root system that has been blamed for wrecking underground water pipes will now be banned in the country. The Ministry of Municipality and Environment has barred all nurseries from sales and purchase of Conocarpus plants, locally called Damas (pictured).
The Public Parks Department at the ministry has called upon all nurseries in the country to stop the sales, import and planting of Conocarpus. With rather invasive roots, the tree strangles underground pipes and chokes drains. The tree's roots run deep and can cause damage to roads, walls, buildings, service lines, sewage networks and could even destabilise posts.
Conocarpus is common in Qatar, because it can cope with the hot and arid conditions. It is also popular because it requires little irrigation and is cheaper compared to other plants of its class. However as they grow, their roots begin to wreak havoc. Though some maintain it as a hedge, experts say the damas can grow to more than 20 metres tall.
“We have not received any notification from the ministry yet, though, it cannot be planted in streets. However, it is being planted in large scale in the desert as part of forestation plans,” said manager of a local plant nursery.  “Conocarpous , though cheap compared to other plants, growing it can cause far more expensive complications,” he told The Peninsula.
The invasive roots can wrap around pipes, crack walls, uproot tiles and clog drains. While reaching for water sources it affects anything that comes in its way, including other plants in the vicinity.
Because of its high salt tolerance and relative drought tolerance, the tree is sometimes planted as a pioneer species in forestation projects, as in Qatar. The tree has a symmetrical growth habit and can easily be shaped into a variety of different forms. It can be shaped into short and tall hedges, and is effective for creating a visual or a noise barrier. With suitable plant spacing it can also be grown as a hardy single-stemmed tree which is good for shade.  
Meanwhile the ministry stressed that sale and purchase of the plant can now be done only through the ministry’s nurseries, after getting needed approvals from concerned authorities here.