|Rain Tree Quick Facts|
|Scientific Name:||Albizia saman|
|Origin||Northern South America and in Central America as far north as El Salvador|
|Colors||Green when unripe, and turn dark blackish-brown when ripe|
|Shapes||Broadly linear, compressed pods, 10-22 cm long, 1.5-2.2 cm wide and 0.5-1 cm thick|
|Health benefits||Beneficial for diarrhea, stomach pain, sore throat, intestinal ailments, blood pressure, headache, tuberculosis and constipation|
It is often placed in the genus Samanea, which by yet other authors is subsumed in Albizia entirely. Genus name honors Filippo degli Albizzia, 18th century Italian naturalist, who introduced the genus to Italy in 1749. It is frequently planted in groups or as an avenue because of its ability to keep its symmetrical conformation in spite of prevailing winds. It is a tree of rapid growth, brought originally from Central America to Sri Lanka and forwarded from there because it was considered to be a tree of great value for railway fuel.
Rain Tree Facts
|Scientific Name||Albizia saman or Samanea Saman|
|Native||Northern South America (Colombia, the Caribbean slope and the Orinoco drainage of Venezuela), and in Central America as far north as El Salvador. It is now widespread from Mexico south to Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. In these areas, it occurs in low-elevation dry forests and grassland/savannah habitats. It has been widely introduced to South and Southeast Asia, as well as the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii|
|Common Names||Monkeypod, Acacia Preta, East Indian Walnut, Rain Tree, saman tree, French tamarind, cow tamarind, saman, sirisa, False Powder Puff, Akasya, Akasya, Belati siris, Bodu gas, Campano, Carabeli, Cenizaro, Chaam-churii, Cong, Filiganga, Genixaro, Gouannegoul, Gumorni spanis, Hujan-hujan, Jahmjuree, Kasia kula, Kayu hujan, Marmar, Mohemohe, ‘ohai, Pukul lima, Reethigas, Tamaligi, Tamalini, Thinbaw-kokko, Trong-kon-mames, Vaivai ni vavalangi|
|Name in Other Languages||Afrikaans: Monkeypod
Amharic: zinijero (ዝንጀሮ)
Arabic: Alqurud (القرود)
Assamese: Sirish goch
Bengali: Monkeypod, rendi koroi, Biliti siris
Chamorro: Tronkon mames
Chinese: Hóu zú (猴足), Yu shu, yǔ shù shǔ (雨树属)
Colombia: Campano, genízaro, samaguare
Cuba: Algarrobo, algarrobo del pais
Dominican Republic: Guannegoul
Dutch: Monkeypod, regenboom
English: Monkeypod, Acacia Preta, East Indian Walnut, Rain Tree, saman tree, French tamarind, cow tamarind, saman, sirisa, False Powder Puff
Fijian: Vaivai ni vavalagi, vaivai ni vavalangi
French: Singe, Arbre a Pluie, Arbre a la Pluie, samana
German: Monkeypod, Regenbaum, Schirmbaum
Greek: Monópodos (μονόποδος)
Grenada: Coco tamarind, cow tamarind
Gujarati: Vāndarā (વાંદરા)
Guyana: French tamarind
Haiti: Guannegoul, samán
Hawaiian: Ohai, pū ‘ohai
Hindi: Monkeypod, Sirsa, Vilayati Siris, belati-siris, guango, majhamaram, nidra-ganneru, thoongh moonjii, Gulabi Siris (गुलाबी सिरिस), Vilaiti siris
Indonesian: Monkeypod, Dutch tamarind, kihujan, mungur, slubin, trembesi
Italian: Monkeypod, albero delle pioggia
Japanese: Sarupoddo (サルポッド), America-nemu
Kannada: Maṅkipāḍ (ಮಂಕಿಪಾಡ್)
Kazakh: Maymıl (маймыл)
Korean: Wonsung-I (원숭이)
Macedonian: Majmun (мајмун)
Malayalam: Maṅkipēāḍ (മങ്കിപോഡ്)
Mongolian: Sarmagchin (сармагчин)
Oriya: ମାଙ୍କଡପୋଡ୍ |
Peru: Huacamayo chico
Portuguese: Monkeypod, Chorona, burdão de velho, falsa-albízia, samaneiro, samán, árvore-da-chuva
Puerto Rico: Crow bean tree, dormilón, giant thibet, guango
Punjabi: Bāndara (ਬਾਂਦਰ)
Serbian: Monkeipod (монкеипод)
Sinhala: Van̆duru poḍ (වඳුරු පොඩ්), Mara
Spanish: Monopod, Algarrobo, Arbor De Lluvia, Guango, saman, tamiacaspi, algarrobo del país, zamang
Swedish: Monkeypod, regnträd
Tamil: Kuraṅku pāṭtu (குரங்கு பாட்)
Trinidad and Tobago: Coco tamarind, cow tamarind, samán guerra
Ukrainian: Mavpochka (мавпочка)
United States Virgin Islands: Giant thibet, licorice
Venezuela: Campano, carabelí, coují, lara, uero
Yapese: Gumor ni spanis
|Plant Growth Habit||Attractive, large, spreading deciduous tree|
|Growing Climates||Dry lowland grassland, coastal bush land, forest, margins of seasonally dry deciduous and semi-deciduous forest, evergreen woodland and savannah, road verges, riverbanks, and forest areas|
|Soil||Adapts to a wide range of soil types and pH levels. Iit tolerates a wide range of light, medium, and heavy soils.|
|Plant Size||Often reaching 15–25 m ( 50-80 ft.) tall, occasionally 50 m( 160 ft.) , with a short stout bole of diameter of 30 m (98 ft.).|
|Bark||Bark of mature trees is gray, rough, and ﬁssured in long plates or corky ridges. Bark is smoother and paler gray to brownish in color on younger tree|
|Twigs||Twigs are stout and green|
|Leaf||Leaves are large, 6-25 mm long and 3-8 cm wide, bipinnate, with 3-6 pairs of pinnae per leaf, 6-9 pairs of leaflets per pinna and large leaflets, 24-62 mm long and 10-25 mm wide.|
|Flowering season||March to May|
|Flower||Tiny ﬂowers (12-25 per head) are massed in pinkish heads 5-6 cm (2-2.4 in) across and about 4 cm (1.6 in) in height|
|Fruit Shape & Size||Broadly linear, compressed pods, 10-22 cm long, 1.5-2.2 cm wide and 0.5-1 cm thick|
|Fruit Color||Green when unripe, and turn dark blackish-brown when ripe|
|Flesh Color||Sticky, brownish|
|Seed||Glossy red brown, ellipsoid, strongly biconvex seeds. They are 8-11.5 mm long and 5-7.5 mm wide, slightly ﬂattened from side to side|
|Propagation||By seed, stem cuttings, root cuttings, and stump cuttings|
|Plant Parts Used||Entire plant, leaves, inner bark|
|Season||May to October|
Rain Tree is an attractive, large, spreading deciduous tree of potentially great size, often reaching 15–25 m (50-80 ft.) tall, occasionally 50 m (160 ft.), with a short stout bole of diameter of 30 m (98 ft.). It is a stately tree, with heavy, nearly horizontal branches and a distinctive umbrella-shaped crown. The crown is typically broad and domed. The horizontal spread is greater than the height when grown in spacious, open settings. Under plantation conditions, the crown is more vase-shaped. The plant is found growing in dry lowland grassland, coastal bush land, forest, margins of seasonally dry deciduous and semi-deciduous forest, evergreen woodland and savannah, road verges, riverbanks, and forest areas. The plants can adapt to a wide range of soil types and pH levels. It can tolerate a wide range of light, medium, and heavy soils.
The bark of mature trees is gray, rough, and ﬁssured in long plates or corky ridges. On younger trees the bark is smoother and paler gray to brownish in color. The inner bark is light colored and bitter.
Leaves are alternately arranged along twigs and have a prominent swelling (pulvinus) at the petiole base. Stipules are present and are threadlike. Leaves are large, 6-25 mm long and 3-8 cm wide, bipinnate, with 3-6 pairs of pinnae per leaf, 6-9 pairs of leaflets per pinna and large leaflets, 24-62 mm long and 10-25 mm wide. Leaflets are unequal in size, becoming larger towards the distal end of the pinnae. The new growth and leaf rachis are covered in short, velvety, tawny pubescence. The leaflets are rhombic-oblong or elliptic in shape, unequal at the base, dark olive-green, glabrous and slightly glossy above, dull grey-green and hairy below.
During dry periods trees are semi-deciduous, losing their leaves for a short period. Where there is a deﬁnite dry season, they may remain leaﬂess for a period of weeks but refoliate speedily if there is sufficient moisture. This gives the appearance that rain tree is “evergreen” in moister climates.
The flowers are arranged in loose umbelliform heads, which develop in groups of 2-5 in the axils of leaves on actively growing shoots. The terminal or central flower on each head is sessile and enlarged compared to the peripheral flowers. The tiny ﬂowers (12-25 per head) are massed in pinkish heads 5-6 cm (2-2.4 in) across and about 4 cm (1.6 in) in height. The long, bicolored stamens (white in lower half and reddish above) give the whole inﬂorescence the appearance of a powder puﬀ or feather duster held slightly above the foliage. Thousands of heads are borne at the same time, covering the tree in pinkish bloom. The central ﬂower in each head is larger, stalk less, has more petals, and is in-capable of forming a fruit. This ﬂower is a nectar-producing organ that attracts pollinators. Usually only one ﬂower per head (rarely two) is pollinated and forms a fruit. Flowering normally takes place in between March to May.
Fertile flowers are followed by broadly linear, oblong, lumpy, compressed pods, 10-22 cm long, 1.5-2.2 cm wide and 0.5-1 cm thick, straight or slightly curved, not dehiscing but eventually cracking irregularly, and ﬁlled with a dry pitch-like sticky, brownish pulp that is sweet and edible. They are green and fleshy when unripe, and turn dark blackish-brown when ripe. The pods do not readily open and remain on trees for long periods.
The pods are indehiscent and contain glossy red brown, ellipsoid, strongly biconvex seeds. They are 8-11.5 mm long and 5-7.5 mm wide, slightly ﬂattened from side to side, with a characteristic U-shaped pleurogram. There are 15-20 seeds per pod (often only 5-10 seeds per pod in the native range). One kilogram of seeds averages 4000-6000 seeds (1820-2730 seeds/lb.). Seeds are readily dispersed by domestic livestock (cattle, hogs, goats) and to a much lesser extent by wild animals (peccary, tapir, and rodents in the presumed native range), whose feeding habits and digestive capacity permit very few seeds to pass through intact.
Traditional uses and benefits of Rain Tree
- The plant is used in the treatment of diarrhea, stomach pain, and sore throat.
- Decoction of the inner bark and fresh leaves is used as a treatment for diarrhea.
- A brew of small sections of the bark is taken to treat stomach-ache.
- A crude aqueous or alcoholic extract of the leaves is observed to have an inhibiting effect on Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
- The alkaloid fraction of the leaves is effective on the CNS and PNS.
- An infusion of the leaves is used as a laxative.
- The fruit decoction is used as a CNS-sedative.
- The seeds are chewed for treating a sore throat.
- Inner bark decoction and fresh leaves are used for cold and diarrhea.
- In Pakistan infusion of the leaves are used as laxative.
- Decoction of inner bark is used for diarrhea, cold and intestinal ailments.
- In Jamaica leaf infusion is used for treating blood pressure.
- In tropical Africa seeds are chewed for treating gum and throat inflammation.
- In Venezuela rain tree is a traditional remedy for cold, diarrhea, headache, intestinal ailments and stomach ache.
- Root decoction is used in hot baths for stomach cancer.
- In the West Indies, leaf infusion is used as a laxative and seeds chewed for sore throat.
- The alcoholic extract of leaves is used for tuberculosis.
- In Columbia, fruit decoction is used as a sedative.
- In the Philippines, a decoction of the inner bark or fresh cambium and leaves is used to treat diarrhea.
- A decoction of the inner bark or fresh cambium and leaves is used to treat diarrhea.
- In the West Indies the leaves are chewed to relieve toothache.
- An infusion of the leaves is given for constipation.
- A boiled bark poultice is used to cure constipation too
Different Uses and products
Rain tree has long been a source of timber and livestock feed (green forage and pods) for local consumption. Minor medicinal and craft uses also are known. The wood is used for carving items for sale to tourists, and the seeds are strung in garlands.
The sticky, licorice-ﬂavored fruit pulp is a minor food item for humans, mainly eaten by kids. It is known as licorice tree in the English-speaking Caribbean. Although the pods have a nice ﬂavor, they are too astringent to eat more than the pulp from a single pod.
Seeds, once cleaned from the sticky fruit pulp, are used in making seed necklaces and other craft items in Hawaii.
3. Animal fodder
With 13-18 % protein, the pods are edible and nutritious for livestock and make an excellent feed supplement. Rain tree is grown as a green fodder supplement for goats, sheep, and cattle in Asia. A 5 year-old tree can produce as much as 550 kg (1210 lb.) of green forage. The pods are ground into a nutritious animal feed in several South American countries.
The fruit pulp is used to make a beverage similar to tamarind (made from tamarind pulp) in Latin America.
There are numerous folk remedies prepared from various parts of rain tree. The boiled bark is applied as a poultice to cure constipation. In the Philippines, a decoction of the inner bark and fresh leaves is used for diarrhea. In Venezuela, the roots are made into a hot bath for stomach cancer. In the West Indies, the seeds are chewed for sore throat.
6. Beautiful/fragrant ﬂowers
Rain tree has been presented to many tropical places for the beautiful masses of pinkish ﬂowers it bears for extended periods.
Timber is valued for carvings, furniture, paneling, veneers, and is also used for turnery, posts, framing in boat building, plywood, boxes, and crates. Sapwood is narrow and white to light cinnamon. The heartwood is straight or cross grained with a medium to coarse texture. Air-dry speciﬁc gravity averages about 0.56. The wood requires careful drying because of shrinkage and moderate to severe warp. It is generally considered a durable wood and resistant to attack by dry wood termites.
8. Fuel wood
In places where there is no demand for rain tree timber for construction or carving, the trunk and branches are used for ﬁrewood and charcoal. Though the wood makes good ﬁrewood, it burns with a lot of smoke even when very dry.
9. Craft wood/tool
The famous monkey pod bowls of Hawaii and other souvenirs are carved from the wood. Rain tree wood was literally the basis for this industry beginning just after World War II ended.
The seeds are used in making seed necklaces, jewelry, and other crafts in Hawaii.
11. Canoe/boat/raft making
The wood is popular for large frame members in wooden boats.
Wood has the right ﬁber properties for making paper. In the Philippines (Bulacan province), shavings made from the wood are made into hats.
Low-grade gum exudes from wounded trees. It has no commercial use but may be used locally. In Thailand, rain tree is used as a food source for the lac insect, the source of shellac.
Honey made from rain tree nectar is collected in several places for local consumption but is not an item of commerce.
15. Use as living fence, hedge or visual/noise barrier
In the Paciﬁc, rain tree is not used as a hedge or living fence. In Asia, the trees are used as a hedge, with heavy trimming required to maintain a compact growth form. Trimmings are used for livestock feed or green manure.
- Pods can be eaten and the pulp can be made into drink.
- Children eat the pods, which contain a brownish, sticky, licorice-like, sweet-flavored pulp.
- Lemon-like fruit drink is also made from the pulp.
- Tree yields a gum of inferior quality which could be used as a poor man’s substitute for gum Arabic.
- Rain Tree is a multi-purpose tree often cultivated for its timber and as food, medicine, and gums among others.
- The tree is grown to provide shade for other crops, including cocoa, coffee, tea and peppers.
- Pods can be ground up and converted to alcohol as an energy source.
- Wood is light in weight and is used for carvings, furniture, paneling, boat building, interior trim, crafts, boxes, veneers, and general construction.
- Bark is an abundant source of gums and resins.
- In Hawaii, bowls and other craft products made from the wood are in such high demand that the local wood supply is supplemented by imports from Indonesia and the Philippines.
- Moderately durable wood, it is also used in boat building.
- The wood is very durable against rot and termites.
- The wood also makes good quality fuel wood and charcoal.