The incredible task carried by wildlife in executing pollination is exemplary. Pollination in plants is a crucial aspect in reproductive cycle of flowering plants. Wind and water also play role in the pollination of many plants, but to witness wildlife getting engaged in pollinating is a fascinating experience in itself. How the appealing flowers, their fragrance, and nectar lure the wildlife towards themselves and make them agents of pollination is an artistic manoeuvre of the plant kingdom. Nature, forests and pollinators are mutually interdependent and plants species can go extinct if the pollinators get extinct. Pollinators are agents who are responsible for assisting over 80% of the world’s flowering plants to carry on their life cycles.
In this context, I would like to draw attention towards Oak tree (Quercus leucotrichophora) commonly known as ‘Banj Oak’. Very few studies have been carried out to understand the inflorescence and pollination ecology of Oak trees. Although Oak trees are wind pollinated but I have seen honey bees and certain insects and birds hovering around the flowers of Oak tree. This year Oak trees were in full bloom alongwith the onset of the spring season in the lesser Himalayan hillside. This event gave me insight into the new visitors and pollinators on the Oak tree. There is a big Oak tree outside my window and it always motivates and inspires me. Now, its captivating my interest with the avian visitors.
The flowers of Oak tree are mainly wind pollinated, although I have observed honey bees hovering on the Oak tree flowers. Also, I have observed sunbirds, blue whistling thrush, Verditer flycatcher, barbet, woodpeckers, tree creepers.
The Blue whistling thrush wishes pleasant good morning through its melodious song, the sunbirds hop from branches and leaf to lead sometimes get puzzled in themselves.
The chorus of the cicadas are also distinctively audible these days. The Great Barbet often comes to sit on the top branches of the Oak trees and sings it’s loud, unmusical call to mark its presence.
The jungle cacophony continues till dark when Mountain Scops Owl whistles to its tune. Beside birds, different varieties of butterflies and moths also do pay visit.
Oak trees are members of Beech family are beautiful and marvellous trees. Besides being an ecologically important tree species, they provide food and shelter to hundreds of varieties of insects and animals. They provide fodder, help in water and soil conservation, sequester carbon. But somehow, this tree is facing challenges in its natural habitat due to human made reasons.The rapid urbanisation and expansion of the Mussoorie and adjacent areas is paving way for ecological as well as habitat degradation and the adjacent forests and environment are facing challenges. Proper studies should be done to have better understanding of pollination ecology and behaviour of Oak trees.
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