Saturday, 17 May 2014

Albizia saman - Rain Tree

Rain tree is Albizia saman, more fondly known as its obsolete name Samanae saman, a tree originated from the Neotropics, range from Mexico to Peru and Brazil.  However, it is widely introduced to South and SE Asia, as well as the Pacific Islands.

The generic name Albizia is to honor an Italian nobleman Filippo degli Albizzi, who introduced Albizia julibrissin to the Europe in the mid-18th century.  The specific name saman is from the Spanish word originated from South American aboriginal name zamang.

The name ‘rain tree’ was coined in India, due to the possible excreta of cicada inhabiting the trees.    It Hawaii, its known as ‘monkeypod’.   Its common name varies in different regions and different languages.

Albizia saman F.Muell. was known as by numerous synonyms :
·Acacia propinqua A.Rich.
·Albizzia saman (Jacq.) Merr. (orth.var)
·Calliandra saman (Jacq.) Griseb.
·Enterolobium saman (Jacq.) Prain
·Feuilleea saman (Jacq.) Kuntze
·Inga cinerea Willd.
·Inga salutaris Kunth
·Inga saman (Jacq.) Willd.
·Mimosa pubifera Poir.
·Mimosa saman Jacq.
·Pithecellobium cinereum Benth.
·Pithecellobium saman (Jacq.) Benth.
·Pithecellobium saman var. saman (Jacq.) Benth.
·Pithecolobium saman (Jacq.) Benth.
·Samanea saman (Jacq.) Merr.
·Zygia saman (Jacq.) A.Lyons

Albizia saman is a wide canopied tree with a large symmetrical crown of up to 20m in diameter.  It can reach a height of 25m and trunk diameter of 40cm. The bark is gray, rough, thick, furrowed.  Its leaves are alternate, bipinnate with diamond-shaped leaflets.  Flowers are in clusters, pink to yellow, depending on its lineage.   Seed pods are long, 10-20cm long.  Seeds oblong, reddish brown.

The large crown provides a nice canopy, thus often planted in parks.  It can also planted in row along road shoulders.  Yet, the large branches tend to break off.  The vast root system also often found damaging roads, drains, pedestrian walkway and buildings.

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