Monday, 17 December 2012

Samanea saman

Samanea saman, more commonly known as the Rain Tree is from the Fabaceae family. It is native to Northern South America.

The medium sized tree with its distinct umbrella shaped crown is capable of reaching a height of 20m.

The bipinnate leaves of the rain tree are arranged alternately. Measuring 2-4 cm in length and 1-2 cm in width, each leaflet is shiny green above and of a lighter green with fine hair on the underside. The leaflets are light sensitive and hence close in the evening and on cloudy days, thus the name Rain Tree

The tiny flower strands are grouped together in pink and white. The cluster grows up to 5-6cm across and 4cm in height. On a whole, the cluster appears to be like a powder puff or feather duster. The flowers of the rain tree are usually pollinated by bees.

The mature seed pots are brownish-black in colour. It is lumpy and longish at about 10-20cm long. Straight or slightly curved, it cracks irregularly. Inside the legume is a sticky brownish pulp that is sweet and edible. Seeds are rounded, about 8–11.5 mm long, and 5–7.5 mm wide. It is slightly flattened from side to side, smooth and dark glossy brown. There are 15–20 seeds per pod.

There is a large Rain Tree at Singapore Botanical Gardens. Having a girth of 5m and standing at 32m tall, it is one of Singapore’s very own heritage tree.

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