Selected Trees and Shrubs
Samanea saman, Common name: Saman, Guango, Rain Tree
Plant Family: Belongs to the Mimosaceae family, which includes Pink Calliandra (Calliandra surinamensis), Woman’s Tongue(Albizia lebbek) and the lowly Sensitive Plant (Mimosa pudica).
Description: On southern side of cricket field; very large, spreading, quick-growing tree, with dome-shaped crown, attaining an enormous size in hot, moist areas, up to 25 m high (80 ft), with stout trunk and wide spreading branches in an umbrella-shaped crown, up to 30 m in breadth (100 ft); grows to a smaller size in dry districts; leaves bipinnate with 3-8 pairs of small, ovate, pubescent leaflets about 2.5 cm long (1 in); flowers up to 50, in pink, powderpuff inflorescences, about 5-6.5 cm across (2-2.5 in), with numerous pink-tipped stamens in each flower head; fruit a dark brown, flattish pod, 15-26 cm long (6-10 in), and about 2 cm broad (0.8 in), with sweet pulp, relished by cattle; root system large, spreading and shallow; tree often becomes top-heavy and susceptible to wind storms after 40-50 yrs of age.
Natural Habitat: Low elevations of tropical hot, moist regions, especially along river banks, but will also grow at higher elevations up to 900 m (3000 ft); propagation by seed.
Origin and Distribution: Native to tropics of southern Mexico to northern Brazil, and now distributed variously to most regions of tropics and semi-tropics.
Uses: Used as a shade tree, one of the finest in the tropics; and pods used for cattle feed; attractive wood used in furniture production, crafted into platters and bowls, and stem cross sections used for coffee tables; because of its rapid growth, it has been recommended for reforestation projects by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.
Indigenous Legends: Leaflets change their position in response to atmospheric conditions; leaves open in day-time and full sunshine, forming shade canopy that allows little or no light to penetrate, and limiting desiccation and evaporation; but at night, in dull weather, or during rain, leaflets pairs fold together and leaf stalks droop, allowing any rain to reach ground unhindered, so that during periods of drought, green grass may be seen beneath tree, while surrounding ground is patched and brown; in Malaya, this led to supposition that drooping of the leaves portended rain or produced rain, hence the name Rain Tree.
Anon. Official Guide to the Botanic Gardens, Dominica. Kew Gardens, London 1924?
Dan H. Nicolson. Flora of Dominica, Part 2: Dicotyledoneae. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 1991
H.F. Macmillan. Tropical Planting and Gardening. Macmillan, London 1956
Dorothy P. Storer. Familiar Trees and Cultivated Plants of Jamaica. Macmillan, London 1964
C.D. Adams. Flowering Plants of Jamaica. University of the West Indies, Mona, Glasgow University Press 1972
Robert A. DeFilipps. Useful Plants of the Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 1998
Preface - How it Began
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Trees, Shrubs, Birds:
Selected Trees and Shrubs
Florida's Fairchild Garden
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Treasures of the Cathedral
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