Monday, 7 April 2008

The Saman and others

My saman tree is in full bloom at the moment. The blooms are so delicate and gentle that it is hard to believe that this majestic tree produces them. It reminds me a bit of a huge lady dressed in a frilly dress. Incongruous but endearing.
The hummingbirds love this flower and the tree is covered with them at this time of year. Because it is so large, it is a virtual ecosystem for many animals. Squirrels and iguanas are the two that I see most frequently but I would wager that there are not a few snakes, different types of birds nesting and even the occasional manicou (local possum). They all coexist quite happily. I did some research on this tree to see exactly how prevalent it is throughout the tropics. I love this magical tree. We know it as Saman and its preferred scientific name is Samanea saman.Rain tree (Samanea saman) is easily recognized by its characteristic umbrella-shaped canopy. When grown in the open, the tree usually reaches 15–25 m (50–80 ft) in height with a canopy diameter wider than the tree is tall. The wood has limited use for carved bowls in local markets; i
Distribution Native to northern South America, and now naturalized throughout the tropics.
Size Typically reaches 15–25 m (50–80 ft) tall with a broad crown typically 30 m (100 ft) in diameter. Habitat Grows best in the lowlands from sea level to 300 m (1000 ft) with rainfall 600–3000 mm (24–120 in). Growth rate Moderately fast growing with growth rates
of 0.75–1.5 m/yr (2.5–5 ft/yr) per year.
Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry
April 2006
ver. 2.1

The name rain tree has been attributed to the fact that:
• The leaflets are light-sensitive and close together on
cloudy days (as well as from dusk to dawn), allowing
rain to fall through the canopy to the ground below.
• The grass is often much greener under a rain tree
than the surrounding grass.
• A steady drizzle of honeydew is often created by
sap-sucking insects.
• Nectaries on the leaf petioles excrete sugary juice
that sometimes falls from the tree like rain.
• During heavy flowering, stamens can drop from the canopy like rain

I found it interesting to see all the names that this trees is known by in various places around the world-
Common names
Pacific islands
filinganga (Northern Marianas)
gouannegoul, saman (French)
gumorni spanis (Yap)
kasia kula, mohemohe (Tonga)
marmar (New Guinea)
‘ohai (Hawai‘i)
rain tree, monkey pod, saman (English)
tamalini, tamaligi (Samoa)
trongkon-mames (Guam)
vaivai ni vavalangi, sirsa (Fiji)
Other regions
acacia, palo de China (Philippines)
algarrobo, algarrobo del país, carreto negro, delmonte, dormilón,
guannegoul, samán (Spanish)
gouannegoul, saman (French)

I'm pretty sure that I have posted some of these images before. But I was digging in my archives and came across them. Today is an atypical rainy day and I think this grey weather needs some cheering up. Where is the sun? A bouquet of heliconias or cocoa lilies. This one is Heliconia psittacorum 'St. Vincent Red'
A bunch of red ginger lilies or alpinia purpurata.
A mixed bunch of heliconias. I think that this is Heliconia Psitticorum cv. St Vincent Red and Heliconia Psitticorum 'Sassy' (the one with pink in the background) The purple Musa banana.

My Double Chaconia.Can anyone ID this orchid?