Come May, ‘Russian poplar’ seed engulfs Kashmir Valley

SRINAGAR: Yet again hazardous puffy cotton like substance released by female species of Russian Poplars has engulfed the valley and become a serious cause of health concern across Jammu and Kashmir.

The flying pollen seeds of “Russi Phress” or “Russian poplars” species in believed to be adversely affecting health of general public as well as tourists.

The Russian poplars, contrary to their name, has nothing to do with Russia. The variety of poplar trees originate from the United States and were introduced in Kashmir Valley in 1982.

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It outnumbered the local poplars and soon became popular because of its quick growth as the species takes 10-15 years to grow to a size as compared to the local variety (Koshur Phress – Kashmiri Poplar) that takes 30-40 years.

These poplars became a staple for local plywood industry and fencing. The wood provides low cost timber to make boxes for transportation valuable produce like apples, peaches and pears.

However, experts say that the local Poplar is harmless.

Come May and summers, the populous deltoids—female poplar—sheds a cotton-like material carrying seeds which flies in air causing several allergies, respiratory disorders like asthma, bronchitis and infections of throat, chest and nose.

A few years back, Jammu and Kashmir High Court has issued order asking for chopping of these trees across the Kashmir valley and ban its plantation.

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