IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Safed Keekar: Delhi’s old native tree

21st October, 2020 Biodiversity


  • Safed Keekar is native to Delhi’s historical open scrubland.
  • This moderate to large sized thorny deciduous tree has characteristic of dry regions, hardy and drought-resistant, adapting to dry, rocky, sandy soils.
  • The Ronjh’s (Acacia leucophloea) crooked trunk and light yellowish-grey to nearly white bark, has given it the species name leucophloea, in which leuco means white.
  • The tree is also often referred to as the White-barked acacia or Safed Keekar, for the same reason.
  • The tree has the tendency to form a spreading crown. It is not just drought-hardy, but is also able to survive in fires and frost, making it one of the most adaptable native trees found in the Indian subcontinent.
  • The timber is not of great value, but the hardness of the wood saw it being used extensively in semi-rural and rural areas for posts and beams, carts and their wheels, agricultural instruments and also for fuel.
  • Herdsmen in drier areas of the country, including deserts, use their leaves as dry-season fodder, considering the dearth of food in the region at the time.
  • The tree has proved useful in several ways, its leaves yield a black dye, while the inner bark is used to make a red-brown dye and its fibre is used for making ropes and fishing nets.
  • The bark and the gum from the tree are used in traditional medicine to treat bronchitis and asthma.
  • The bark is often used to distil liquor, a reason for the tree’s other interesting name: Distiller’s Acacia or Sharab ki Keekar.

The Ronjh can be seen on The Ridge, Hauz Khas, Vasant Kunj and the tree-rich old JNU campus. Apart from the old trees.