Buttonwood or Conocarpus erectus is a wide variety of ground mangroves with tropical and subtropical coasts of the United States and West Africa. It grows as a shrub or small tree. Coastal lands and islands of various sizes. There are two types, “Silver” and “Green”. The leaves are very mature and almost shiny, respectively.
Countries Where Conocarpus Found
This species is widely distributed in coastal communities in the tropics of the Americas and West Africa. It can be found throughout Florida and as far as Brazil in the south of the Bahamas and the West Indies.
In the eastern Pacific, it is located in Mexico. From Central America to Ecuador and the Galapagos. It is also found in West Africa. it was also introduced in Hawaii, Kuwait, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia.
Conocarpus in Pakistan
It was first introduced in Pakistan by the former mayor of Karachi, Syed Mustafa Kamal, who planted 2.2 million Conocarpus almost everywhere in Karachi. It dramatically changed the landscape of the city and provided a dense shade for humans and animals.
These plants are also helping to reduce carbon imprints by absorbing the city’s rising Co2 and generating oxygen. In addition, it gives life to desert-looking parks and concrete forests.
As it grows in hard soils with the presence of brackish groundwater, this plant has become the city’s favorite tree. When it was first imported to Karachi, it cost around Rs. 15,000-25,000 per plant. However, due to high demand from citizens and the government, when local nurseries started advertising it, Rs. 15-25 per plant.
As I have said before, it is a tropical plant, belonging to the mangrove family. The soil of Karachi provided a favorable environment for this plant to grow and flourish here. Its physiology is not much different from that of our native trees like Neem, Ficus, Lignum, Flamboyant, Moringa, Eucalyptus, Amaltas, Imli, tamarind, etc.
Over the years, it has continuously cleaned up Karachi’s air pollution and reduced groundwater salinity. In the Western world, the tree also has economic value for its hardwood, which is used in furniture making, charcoal making, and medicinal use.
Research on Conocarpus
As rumors have been circulating for a few days about this innocent tree that is causing allergies and asthma in the population of Karachi. Even a reporter on a private news channel has made such a stupid report against Conocarpus.
Conocarpus was not even on the list of allergen-causing plants in a 2015 study published by Karachi University and Aga Khan University. Another study from the University of Lahore has reported that this tree has both antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Even if you search for “Top 100 Allergic Plants in the World” on Google, surprisingly Conocarpus isn’t there!
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/), the globally recognized American research organization, is the authority for “any new medical development/research” and has no evidence of an allergy to Conocarpus.
Conocarpus does not Harm the Oxygen in the Air
Some people believe that Conocarpus sucks oxygen from the air and makes it difficult to breathe. We asked Dr. Raza Ahmed Chishti, a plant scientist in the Department of Environmental Sciences, Comsats University, Islamabad, “No plant absorbs oxygen during the day, it occurs in all plants at night, and Conocarpus is no different.”
Advantages and Disadvantages of Conocarpus
The advantages and Disadvantages of Conocarpus are following:
- Evergreen shrub tree.
- Can be used as a shed, wood, or noise barrier.
- Great plant for deforestation and to combat global warming.
- Can grow in almost any type of soil.
- Can be cut into Shapes or shades as needed.
- Great plant for bonsai art.
- Can be used to create barrier hedges on lawns.
- Extremely drought and heat tolerant.
- No fruit to eat or flowers for beauty.
- This plant has nothing to do with native birds, bees, or squirrels.
- Uses a large amount of groundwater.
- Bear pollen causes allergies twice a year.
- The extensive root system can damage infrastructure.