Garjan (Rhizophora apiculata)
Garjan (Rhizophora apiculata), also known as the Asiatic Mangrove or Red Mangrove, is a species of mangrove tree belonging to the Rhizophoraceae family. It is native to the mangrove forests of the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and northern Australia. Garjan trees are commonly found in coastal areas, particularly along estuaries, tidal creeks, and the seaward edges of mangrove forests, where they can tolerate high levels of salinity.
Garjan trees typically grow up to 15-25 meters in height, with some specimens reaching up to 30 meters. The tree has a straight, cylindrical trunk with smooth, dark brown bark that becomes fissured and rough with age. One of the most distinctive features of the Garjan tree is its arching stilt roots, also known as prop roots or aerial roots, which emerge from the base of the trunk and provide stability in the muddy substrate of the mangroves.
The leaves of the Garjan tree are simple, opposite, and elliptical to oblong in shape, with a shiny, dark green upper surface and a lighter green underside. The tree produces small, pale green to white flowers in clusters. These flowers are bisexual and are pollinated by insects. Following pollination, the flowers develop into elongated, cigar-shaped, green fruits that turn brown as they mature. Each fruit contains a single, large seed that is dispersed by water.
Garjan trees play a vital role in the mangrove ecosystem, providing habitat and food for various species of birds, fish, and other wildlife. The extensive root system of the tree helps to prevent soil erosion, stabilize shorelines, and maintain water quality by trapping sediments and filtering pollutants.
The wood of the Garjan tree is dense, hard, and resistant to termites, making it suitable for various purposes such as construction, boat building, and the production of charcoal. The bark of the tree has been used in traditional medicine for treating various ailments, such as fever, diarrhea, and dysentery. However, the increasing demand for its wood and habitat loss due to deforestation, aquaculture expansion, and climate change has led to a decline in Garjan tree populations. Conservation efforts are necessary to protect these unique trees and the vital ecosystems they support.