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Trees have countless benefits for our cities. However, green cities concept has been ignored during rapid urbanization seen over the past few decades. Tree canopy cover in our urban areas has been decreasing for some time due to expanding roads, etc. Research over the years has confirmed the immense value and benefits that mature urban trees offer to our cities. The trees provide visual appeal to any area. It is estimated that:

  • For every 10 percent increase in urban tree canopy cover, ozone levels in urban areas is reduced by 3-percent. Higher ozone levels harm our health.
  • Trees remove carbon from the air, getting absorbed and stored as cellulose in their trunks, branches, and leaves.
  • Research has also shown a 60% reduction in particulate matter from car exhaust fumes on streets lined with trees.
  • Trees constantly remove pollutants including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter such as carbon monoxide, cadmium, nickel, and lead from the air.
  • For every 5 percent of tree cover stormwater runoff is reduced by 2 percent.
  • Trees shade and transpiration reduce temperatures. This helps reduce air conditioning bills and energy use

Trees also increase the property values on tree lined streets. Trees have also been proven to present positive impacts against reagents causing skin cancer, asthma, hypertension, and other stress related illness by filtering out polluted air, reducing smog formation, providing shade from solar radiation, and providing an attractive, calming setting for recreation. Trees also form an effective sound absorbing barrier to help reduce urban noise pollution. The diversity of trees helps in providing natural habitats for birds, squirrels, reptiles, and other fauna.

Urban biodiversity is receiving global attention. Singapore has developed a City Biodiversity Index (or Singapore Index) as an environmental index for cities. The Index is a self-assessment tool for cities to evaluate and monitor the progress of their biodiversity conservation efforts against their own individual baselines. It comprises a) the “Profile of the City”, which provides background information on a city; and b) the 23 indicators that measure native biodiversity, ecosystem services provided by biodiversity, and governance and management of biodiversity based on guidelines and methodology provided in the User’s Manual on the Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity. It is recommended that this tool may be adopted and used for monitoring progress in urban forestry in mega cities of Pakistan.

Miyawaki method to create urban forests is gaining popularity around the globe. The Miyawaki method creates fascinating complex ecosystems, in balance with today’s soil and climate conditions. This technique works worldwide irrespective of soil and climatic conditions. Akira Miyawaki, Botanist, and professor is the inventor of the technique since 1980. He is a recipient of the 2006 Blue Planet Prize, which is the equivalent of a Nobel Prize in ecology. Using the methodology, we create native urban forest ecosystems much quicker. The method takes its inspiration directly from processes and diversity in nature: 15 to 30 different species of trees and shrubs are planted together. This plant community works very well together and is perfectly adapted to local weather conditions. The habitat thus created will get more complex over time and attract much biodiversity. Vegetation becomes much denser than conventional plantations, and it has the structure of a mature natural forest. It is a multi-story structure, where different levels of vegetation appear. The forest thus structured delivers many benefits in the form of ecosystem services.

There are many trees and shrubs that are available for planting in the urban landscapes of Pakistan for their colorful flowers, foliage, their shape or both for flowers and foliage, etc. The choice depends on the soil, availability of water, space available, presence of overhead powerlines, phone lines, streetlights etc. Generally native species are more adaptable and require less care than the exotics. The list of species suitable for urban landscape (Annex 1) is organized into tall, medium, and short trees and shrubs. The list has a short description of the landscape characteristics of the species and climate zone for which the species are suitable.

List of suitable trees for Urban Landscaping

1 Large Trees (height >15m)

These trees are suitable for parks, and large compound and urban plantations or woods.  Large Trees are designated as those attaining a height of 15 m or more with a mature spread of 10 m or more. Large trees should be spaced at least 8-10 m apart and should be planted 0.5-0.75 m away from any concrete curb, sidewalk, or patio. Soils must be a minimum of 1 m in depth. These trees require adequate space for canopy growth and should not be planted underneath power lines or within ten (10) feet of streetlights or utility curb boxes. Column trees are tall and very thin, with upright branches. Their vertical shape adds height and also provides great screening without taking up much room in the landscape. These are suitable for narrow spaces, privacy when planted close together, and along walkways. Palms are mainly planted for their aesthetic value along driveways, edges of lawns, along boundary wall, etc.

SpeciesLocal NamesLandscape characterizationSuitable habitat
Alstonia scholarisChattianEvergreen, up to 40 m tall, branches and leaves in whorls, green to white fragrant flowers bloom in the October.Central Punjab
Araucaria hetrophyllaAraucariaEvergreen tree, height of 50–65 m tall, straight vertical trunk and symmetrical branches.Irrigated plains
Azadirachta indicaNeemEvergreen tree, up to 25 m tall, white fragrant flowers are small, white and fragrant bunches of flowers in March and April, planted for shade.tropical and sub-tropical frost-free regions.
Bischofia javanicaBishop TreeLarge evergreen tree, 15-17 m tall, planted in parks and as avenue tree.Irrigated plains
Bombax ceibaSimalLarge deciduous tree, 36 m or more tall, red showy flowers are fleshy and occur March.Himalayan foothills and cultivated throughout the plains as an avenue tree.
Cassia nodossaJava Cassiafast growing, deciduous / semi-deciduous tree which flowers in spring. It has a straight trunk that reaches heights of 25 – 40m. 
Celtis eriocarpa  BatkharDeciduous tree, 15-18 m tall, with slender pendulous branches, leaves turn pale yellow in fall, drought tolerant and tolerates urban pollution.Moist temperate zone, cultivated in uplands.
Corylus colurnaUrniDeciduous tree, up to 25 m tall, conical crown spreading in mature trees, flowers on male plants bloom in early spring before the leaves. Very tolerant of difficult growing conditions in urban areas.Moist temperate Himalayan range
Cupressus arizonica Gulabi SaruTree up to 25 m high crown broadly conical;Dry Temperate Highlands,
Cupressus sempervirensSaruMedium-sized coniferous evergreen tree to 35 m (with a conic crown  Dry Temperate Highlands,
Erythrina suberosaGul-i-Nishter  
Eucalyptus citriodoraSufeda  
Ficus macrocarpaIndian laurelEvergreen, up to 15-20 m tall, dense rounded crown, commonly planted as a street treeIrrigated plains
Ficus recemosprtGularEvergreen or occasionally deciduous tree 10-20 m tall, planted for shade in gardens.Irrigated plains
Ficus religiosa PipalLarge evergreen tree, sheds leave for a short period in hot season, large spreading crown.  Planted in gardens and as avenue tree for shade.Sub-Himalayan tract and irrigated plains
Gleditsia triacanthos Honey locustA large deciduous tree, up to 25 m tall, spreading crown, flowers are greenish hanging bunches in May and June, planted as a park or avenue tree. Tolerates poor site conditions,Irrigated northern plains.
Gmelina arborea Kumhar, GumharA medium to large sized, deciduous tree with height of 20 m, the reddish brown or yellow flowers are borne when the trees are leafless.Himalayan foothills in Azad Kashmir, cultivated in the subtropical plains s.
Grevillea robustaSilver OakDeciduous tree, long conical crown, up to 20 m tall, very showy yellow to orange flowers between February and April. Planted in parks and as avenue tree.Sub-tropical hills and irrigated plains.
Kigelia AfricanaGul e FanoosDeciduous tree, spreading branches, flowers and fruits hang down the branches, flowers large orange to maroon or purplish green, fruit long woody cucumber shape can weigh 5-10 kg. Tree is cultivated in parks for its decorative flowers and unusual fruits.Irrigated plains.
Magnolia grandifloraMagnoliaEvergreen tree, reaching 27 m in height with a conical crown with large dark green leaves up to 20 cm, long and 12 cm wide, large, white; fragrant flowers up to 30 cm  in diameter.Sub-tropical araeas.
Millingtonia hortensisTree JasmineA tall erect evergreen tree attaining a height of 18-25 30 m, white fragrant flowers in February and March, ornamental trees in parks and large compounds. Not common in Pakistan, planted only in some rest houses.Sub-tropical irrigated plains.
Millettia pinnataSukh ChainSemi-evergreen tree with drooping branches, grows to about 15–25 m with a large canopy that spreads equally wide, clusters of small white, purple, and pink flowers blossoming throughout the year.Cultivated in sub-tropical zone up to 600 m elevation.
Monoon longifoliumFalse AshokaEvergreen tree grows to over 20 m. in height, symmetrical pyramidal growth with willowy weeping pendulous branches and long narrow lanceolate leaves. Commonly planted due to its effectiveness in alleviating noise pollution.Sub-tropical zone
Neolamarckia cadambaKadamOrnamental, large evergreen tropical tree up to 45 m, broad umbrella-shaped crown. It has a straight, cylindrical bole, sometimes with buttresses, Often planted as avenue tree for shade.Humid sub-tropics.
Platanus orientalisChinarA large, deciduous tree 20 to 25 m tall, spreading crown, the leaves change to blood red, amber or yellow in fall.Temperate zone but has also cultivated in Islamabad and Lahore.
Prunus cornutaKala KathDeciduous, large tree, 15-18 m tall with a similar spread, The white flowers grow in 10 to 15 cm long brunches.Dry Temperate Zone
Pterospermum acerifoliumKanak ChampaEvergreen tree with an irregular crown, up to 30 m in height, planted as a roadside tree or garden ornamental valued especially for its beautiful, fragrant blooms.Sub-tropical plains.
Roystonea regiaRoyal palmA large and attractive palm, planted as an ornamental tree. reaches heights to 25 m, trunk is stout, very smooth and grey white in color with a bulge below a distinctive green crown, about 15 leaves which can be up to 4 m longSub-tropical zone
Terminalia arjunaArjunEvergreen tree attaining a height of 20–30 m, forms a wide canopy at the crown, cultivated as roadside tree.Arid irrigated plains
Terminalia catappaJangli BadamDeciduous tree, up to 35 m tall, mainly planted for shade. perennialtropical and subtropical regions
Toona sinensisToonDeciduous tree up to 20 m tall. masses of pinkish white tubular flowers appear in May-June. Cultivated as avenue tree.moist shady places from 1000 m to 2500 m

2. Medium Trees (Height 7-15 m)

SpeciesLocal NamesLandscape characterizationSuitable habitat
Aegle marmelosBaelDeciduous tree, up to 13 m tall, drooping branches and rather open, irregular crown. Cultivated in parks.Sub-Himalayan tract, from Jhelum eastward, Salt Range and lower Baluchistan,
Amherestia nobilisPride of BurmaEvergreen tree grows up to 15 m tall, rounded crown, gentle weeping branches. It produces large, showy crimson flowers hanging in bunches.humid sub-tropical area.
Butea monosperma  ChechraMedium-sized dry-season deciduous tree, crooked trunk and irregular branches, growing to 15 m tall, flowers are bright orange-red and produced in bunches.Sub-Himalayan tract
Brachychiton populneus KurrajongMedium sized tree can reach up to 15 m, dense canopy of glossy green foliage, the cream-colored flowers with streaked pink or purple throats, appear late spring to autumn, great source of nectar for bees. Highly drought tolerant.Sub-tropical zone
Cassia fistulaAmaltasSemi-evergreen tree growing to 10–20 m tall, golden flowers in bunches.Sub-Himalayan tract and sub-tropics.
Cedrela toonaToonDeciduous tree, crown broad and rounded, sweet scented white flowers in March-May.Plains and foothills up to 1000 m.
Celtis caucasicaBatkharDeciduous tree with rounded crown, about 15 m tall with slender pendulous branches, leaves turn pale yellow in fall, drought tolerant and tolerates urban pollution.Temperate zone in western Pakistan
Cornus macrophyllaKandaraDeciduous tree growing to 15 m, creamy white flowers borne in bunches.Moist temperate Himalayan region
Crateva religiosaReligious TreeSemi-evergreen, spreading crown, glossy foliage. Cultivated in temples and graveyards.Sub-Himalayan tract and irrigated plains.
Cupressus sempervirensSaruMedium-sized coniferous evergreen tree to 35 m (with a conic crown  Dry Temperate Highlands,
Diospyros malabarica           GaabAlmost evergreen tree, leafless only for short time, new leaves shinning coppery red, spreading crown. Large red velvety fruits. Planted as avenue tree.Irrigated plains and plateau
Delonix regiaGul MoharSemi-evergreen tree that attains heights of 12 to 15 m with diameters, bright showy scarlet flowers in bunches appear in May and June.Southern Sindh
Ehretia serrataPunaMedium sized tree, up to 12 m tall, oblong in shape, small white flowers are fragrant, occur in large cone shaped bunchesSub-Himalayan tract and central Punjab.
Fernandoa adenophylla      Nag PhalliDeciduous tree up to 15 m tall, large leaves, large pale yellow trumpet shaped flowers, fruit long and twisted, hanging like snakes.Irrigated plains
Hyophorbe lagenicaulisBottle PalmA small evergreen palm, growing to 7m tall, smooth pale grey to almost white trunk with swollen like a bottle, 4-8dark gracefully arching green feather like leaves at the top of the trunkSub-tropical zone
Livistonia ChinensisFountain PalmMedium sized evergreen palm adorned with up to 50 large emerald-green leavesSub-tropical zone
Mallotus philippensisKamilaSemi-evergreen tree growing to 12 m high, It is grown as an ornamental, being valued especially for its red fruits.Subtropical Himalayas region
Melia azedarachDhrekDeciduous tree with a rounded crown, grows up to 12 m, purple or lilac flowers in clusters. Mainly planted for shade and flowers.Himalayas up to 1700 m, cultivated in sub-tropics.
Mimusops elengi MolseryMedium-sized evergreen tree, up to 16 m tall, dense shade flowers are cream, hairy, and scented, fruits are fleshy, range in color Sub-tropical irrigated plains.
Putranjiva roxburghiiPatajinEvergreen deciduous tree, growing up to 15 m, with pendent branches. Ornamental tree planted for shade.Sub-tropical plains
Salix babylonicaWillowDeciduous tree up to 12 m high with a graceful and refined, open crown of ground-sweeping branches., reachesThis willow grows especially well near water.
Saraca asocaAshokaEvergreen tree growing to 9 m, prized for its beautiful foliage and bunches of fragrant flowers in February to April.Sub-tropical zone.
Schinus molleKali mirchEvergreen tree that grows to 15 meters tall and wide, upper branches of the tree tend to droop, foliage bright green and comprised of many narrow leaflets, flowers are insignificant but the papery pink to red berries are wonderfully ornamental in the fall and winter.Cultivated in sub-tropics.

3. Small Trees

Small Trees are designated as those attaining a height of less than 10 meters with a mature spread of three meters or more. Small trees are appropriate for planting under overhead wires and utilities and can be planted less than eight meters apart.

Small trees are suitable for planting along roads with narrow side strips of land on sides, under electric lines, among streetlights, in homes for shade or flowers, large compounds parks etc.

SpeciesLocal NamesLandscape characterizationSuitable habitat
Bauhinia purpureaKoiralMedium-size deciduous tree growing to 5 m tall, conspicuous pink fragrant flowers appear September-November, planted as an ornamental roadside and garden plant.Himalayan foothills and cultivated in sub-tropical zone.
Bauhinia variegateKachnarDeciduous in the dry season 10–12 m tall, conspicuous bright pink or white flowers appear in February-April, widely planted as an ornamental tree.Sub-Himalayan tracts. It has a wide distribution through the hills and plains
Cassia javanica Small tree with spreading crown.  garden tree owing to its beautiful crimson and pink flower bunches 
Ceratonia siliquaCarob Treeflowering evergreen tree or shrub. It is widely cultivated for its edible pods, and as an ornamental tree in gardens.Mediterranean region
Cochlospermum gossypiumGalgalIt is a small tree growing to a height of 7.5 m, yellow and bright flowers, planted along roadside parks & gardensSub-tropical areas
Dillenia indicaElephant AppleIt is an evergreen tree growing to 15 m tall, grown in gardens, where it is highly prized for its large (15–20 cm) handsome white flowers with yellow stamens and fragrant flowers. flowers are large, diameterSub-tropical areas
Ehretia laevisSakkarA small to medium sized tree up to 9 m tall. Flowers white. 
Flueggea virosaPath GeriDeciduous shrub or small tree, up to 4 m high; numerous branches arising from the base and spirally arranged upwards, small creamy green flowers, fruit are white and fleshy and appear in December-March. TSubtropical areas.
Guiacum officinaleLignumA small (7-10 m in height) with a round crown, slow-growing trees, attractive blue flower and orange-yellow fruit.Coastal areas.
Jacaranda mimosifoliaJacarandaDeciduous tree with spreading light crown, grows to a height of up to 20 m, cultivated for its feathery foliage and beautiful bunches of blue flowers appear in spring and early summer.Sub-tropical zone.
Jatropha integerrimaJatropgaEvergreen woody shrub or small tree, able to grow up to about 4.5 m tall and with a spread of 2 – 3 m wide, clusters of flowers.Cultivated in sub-tropics.
Lagerstroemia indicaLagerstroemiaDeciduous multi-stemmed tree, a wide spreading crown, up to 7 m tall, flowers are white, pink, mauve, purple or carmine with crimped petals.Temperate and sub-tropical areas.
Melaleuca viminalisBottle brushEvergreen multi-trunked tree, pendulous foliage, and large numbers of bright red bottlebrush flowers in spring and summer. It grows up to 10 m tall.Sub-tropical zone.
Melia azedarachBakainThis is a varieties of Melia azedarach (Dhrek) which has multiple stem, It is small to medium tree, with dense canopy.Cultivated in sub-tropical plains
Nyctanthes arbor-tristisHarsingarShrub or a small tree growing to 10 m, clusters of fragrant flowers with an orange-red center; they are produced in f two to seven together, with individual flowers opening at dusk and casting off in the morning thus making a carpet of flowers.Cultivated in sub-trpocis.
Oroxylum indicumTrumpet FlowerDeciduous trees up to 10 m in height, leaves very large, night-bloomer, enormous seed pods up to 1.5 m long that hang down from bare branches, resembling swords.Cultivated from foot ills to sub-tropical plains.
Peltophorum pterocarpumGolden showerA small sized tree, up to 10 m high, dense green crown, bunches of yellow flowers May-August,Sub-tropical zone mainly southern Pakistan.
Pistacia chinensis ssp. IntegerrimaKakar-SinghiDioecious tree up to 17 m or more tall. This species is planted as a street tree in temperate areas worldwide due to its attractive fruit and autumn foliageTemperate zone
Prunus persicaArooAa deciduous tree growing to 6 m, pink-red flowers arrive in very early spring. A fruit tree but cultivated in plains as an ornamental tree.Mediterranean climate, cultivated in plains as an ornamental tree.
Tecomella undulata Lahura, RohirroA small semievergreen tree, up to 5 m tall, in springtime it produces beautiful showy tubular flowers in yellow, orange and red colorsSub-tropical uplands and some desert areas.
Thespesia populneaPortiaEvergreen tree reaches a height of 6–10 m, canopy 3-4 m wide, cup-shaped flowers are pale 5 to 8 cm, produced intermittently throughout the year.Coastal areas.
Triadica sebiferaTarcharbiDeciduous tree, rounded crown, growing to 9 m, leaves become bright yellows, oranges, purple and reds in the autumn, planted for shade, it is highly adaptable and will grow in a wide range of conditions.Temperate zone

4. Shrubs

Shrubs are suitable for medians in urban roads, under telephone lines, or as a first row where two or more rows can be planted along urban roads, parks, along driveways, edges of lawns, etc. The flowering shrubs are generally planting for aesthetics in homes, parks and along roads.

SpeciesLocal NamesLandscape characterizationSuitable habitat
Bougainvillea sp.,BoganvillaA woody vine or shrub, reaching 12 m, flowers are small, white, and inconspicuous, highlighted by several brightly colored modified leaves called bracts.Sub-tropical areas
Caesalpinia pulcherrimaPoincianaA shrub growing to 3 m tall, semievergreen, yellow, orange, or red flowers are borne in bunches, frost tender.Sothern Sindh
Murraya paniculateKamniA shrub 3-4 m tall, flowers have the scent of orange blossoms and arranged in loose groups, small red fruits at the same time.Sub-tropical areas
Nerium oleanderKaner, KaneerShrub 2–6 m tall. with multiple stems spreading outward as they mature; white, pink to red flowers grow in clusters year-round at the end of each branch, grow in clusters, peaking during the summer. It is tolerant to both drought and inundation but not to prolonged frost, cultivated as an ornamental and landscaping plantNerium oleander
Platycladus orientalisMor PunkhA small, slow growing shrub grows as a dense, conical shrub.  The foliage forms in flat sprays with scale-like leaves which are bright green in color. The branches are relatively short, loosely arranged and, usually, sharply directed upwards/.Temperate areas
Punica granatumAnaar, Annar DannaA fruit-bearing deciduous shrub that grows between 5 and 10 m tall. The flowers are red.Sub-Tropical Mountain Zone, temperate areas.
Rhododendron arboreumBurans; Burus; Chalan; Chiu; Zalatai.It is an evergreen shrub with a showy display of bright red flowersTemperate region
Tecoma stansTecomaIt is an irregularly shaped, evergreen shrub, generally 2-3 m tall, has several stems clusters of large, trumpet-shaped, yellow flowers are very showy against the olive-green leaves.Sub-tropical areas
Thevetia neriifoliaKaneru, Yellow OleanderLarge ornamental shrub, poisonous but of very high landscape value because of its hardiness, showy yelloe flowers in clusters.Sub-tropical zone

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