A Russian olive tree in Warijun village of Upper Chitral. — Dawn
A Russian olive tree in Warijun village of Upper Chitral. — Dawn

CHITRAL: The upper parts of Chitral have been flooded with the spellbinding aroma of Shinjurispru (Russian olive), but the residents regretted that the dread of coronavirus had diluted the fervor associated with it.

The medium-sized bushy tree of Shinjur is common in Upper Chitral with high population which fast becomes ready to be harvested for being used as fuel wood and needs no irrigation water due to which its survival rate is 100 per cent.

The blooming of its highly aromatic flowers has been named to a month of the local calendar, which have also been widely used in poetry and literature and many folk songs carry the description of the flowers.

Amanullah Ayubi, a retired school teacher from Kosht, said that the blooming season spanning over two to three weeks was enthusiastically celebrated by the people of all age groups when the area was overwhelmed by the aroma of its flower.

He pointed out that a sonnet of 17th century about the flower of Shinjur was still popular among the people as almost everyone was heard muttering its verses.

He said that the former rulers of Chitral grew the thorny tree in their gardens in large number to relish its fragrance and fervently received the bouquets of its flowers from the visitors coming to their courts for courtesy or official jobs.

Mr Ayubi, however, regretted that the blossoming season of Shinjur was about to end but without any fanfare and festivities as most of the people confined themselves to their homes due to coronavirus pandemic.

The Kalash spring festival Chilim Jusht is also held in the blossoming days of Shinjur which signified the prime of the spring season and the Kalash people adorned their homes with the twigs of the tree in a particular pattern.

Abdul Rafi of Warijun village said that the green twigs containing the flowers of Shinjur are fed to the cows to obtain milk giving the same smell of the flower. And the honey obtained in this season also gives the same fragrance, he added.

REGISTRATION: The department of botany of the University of Chitral has got its herbarium registered with the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), a world’s renowned institution in the field of research in botany.

According to a statement issued here the other day, now the research carried out in the herbarium of the varsity would be acknowledged world-wide by the research community and institutions and the findings of the research would automatically become part of global research in the relevant field.

The statement added that the Project Director of the University Dr Badshah Munir Bukhari lauded the efforts of the department for achieving the goal.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2020