Species Guide: Common Urban Trees


A majestic rain tree with its spreading crown. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Common name: Rain Tree, Monkey Pod

Malay name: Pukul Lima, Hujan-Hujan

Scientific name: Samanea saman

Conservation status: Least concerned, Cultivated, Introduced (Tropical Americas)


A medium-sized tree that grows up to 30 m tall. Tree crown is spreading and umbrella-shaped. Leaves are doubly divided, fold up in early morning and during cloudy days. It bears clusters of fluffy flowers with pink tips and white bases. Flowers are slightly fragrant. It produces seedpods that are black and break into segments when mature.

Habit: Perennial tree

Cultivation: It is planted by seeds, stumps or cuttings

Ecological function: The flowers attract pollinators. The tree is nitrogen-fixing i.e. able to convert atmospheric nitrogen into more usable form in soil. It provides shade. The prunings of this tree can be used as green manure to improve soil fertility. In Thailand, it is used as a host plant for Lac Insect (Laccifer lacca).

Pollinator: Bees

Soil: Sand, loam, clay. It can tolerate heavy clay and poor soils

Moisture: Dry, moist, wet soils. This tree is drought-tolerant

Shade: No shade, semi-shade

Use: Edible (fruit), timber

By ShangMing

A plant lover. I like small, medium, gigantic, ordinary, exotic, local, foreign plants. Just because they thrive to stand out.