Thursday, February 9, 2023
West Bengal

Land- Geography of West Bengal

Natural Vegetation

Deciduous Forest of the Plateau Fringe

Trees found in these forests are palash also in the form of coppice and glades of full grown mahua. There trees are not felled, for their flowers, fruits and seed are used for producing liquor, food and oil. Other trees are simal, haldu and harra. Bamboos and some kinds of tall grasses including sabai grass also grow at places in this area.

Mangrove Vegetationof the Sundarbans

The vegetation in this region has to face a very special type of environment. The water is salty and the vegetation must adopt itself to the rise and fall of tides. There is little firm ground for trees to stand. It is all deep slimy mud. Plants must provide themselves with gadgets to stand erect in such environment.

The root systems of mangrove plants are usually very large to allow them to stand in deep mud. In many cases as in keya or kewra, the roots branch out from above the ground and provide stilts to the plant, so that it does not fall easily. As the tide ebbs out, a tangled mass of roots is visible just above the water. 

Some plants germinate from their seeds while still on the tree. While the little plant grows up, it develops a long "stab" like root below while still attached to its mother tree and still in the air. When sufficiently strong it falls down and stabs itself into the mud, already a growing plant, ready to face the hazards of life. These plants are called viviparous. 

A very common scene in the Sundarbans is a forest of spikes jutting out of the muddy ground. They are actually pneumatophores or breathing roots shooting out of the mud and joined to the root system underground. They consist of fine tubes through which air reaches the inner, submerged roots. The most common of salt loving trees which is found here is Sundri. Other trees are goran, gewa, baen and dhundal. A dwarf variety of palm called nipa palm grows widely along the edge of the salt water.