Plant profile: Damas tree

The hardy Conocarpus lancifolius can clean soil, but also has less-pleasant traits.

The hardy Conocarpus lancifolius can clean soil, but also has less-pleasant traits

The Conocarpus lancifolius, or Damas tree, is fast-growing and tolerant of heat, drought and salt, making it a perfect landscape tree and shrub for the UAE. Native to the coastal and riverine areas of Somalia, Djibouti and Yemen, the tree is also found throughout the Horn of Africa and South Asia.

The Damas has proven effective in cleaning oil-­contaminated soils and is often used in soil stabilisation and reforestation projects. As the tree has a symmetrical growth habit, it can easily be shaped into a variety of different forms, making it particularly effective for creating a visual or noise barrier. However, there are some qualities that make it difficult to truly enjoy. The dropped leaves, flowers and seeds make a considerable amount of litter; when in flower, the tree emits a heavy, unpleasant smell; and its roots can cause damage to walls and drains, so proceed with care.