9 PHILIPPINE NATIVE TREES BETTER THAN CHERRY BLOSSOMS – Lately, I’m finding myself more and more interested in trees. And no, that wasn’t a metaphor. I literally am interested in trees – in love, even. When I’m walking ’round town or whenever I ride my bicycle, I’d stop just so I could inspect trees, especially if they’re flowering.
I have this desire to accurately recognize trees on sight, so much so that I’ve decided I’d take up Forestry as soon as I have money to spare. But for now, I’d have to make do with what I read on the Internet and in The Shrub Identification Book I’d scored from a book sale. (If you have any tree-related book you’re no longer using, can I have it?)
9 Philippine Native Trees Better Than Cherry Blossoms
“Molave forests” can be found all throughout the Philippines. It is common in both secondary and open primary forests at low altitude. Aside from the Philippines, Molave is also native to Indonesia and Malaysia.
A town in Pangasinan is named after the magnificent Bani. While it is native in southern and eastern Asia, and Australia, Bani is also cultivated in Africa and the USA. A legume tree, Bani grows to about 15–25 meters in height with a large canopy spreading wide. It may be deciduous (sheds it leaves) for short periods. It is often used as a windbreak or for shade due to the large canopy and showy fragrant flowers. Bani’s flowers are small clusters of white, purple and pink. The flowers are used by gardeners as compost for plants requiring rich nutrients. The wood is said to be beautifully grained but splits easily when cut thus relegating it to firewood, posts, and tool handles. For thousands of years, its oil, known as pongamia oil, has been used as lamp oil, in soap making, and as a lubricant.
4. ILANG-ILANG (Cananga odorata)
Ilang-ilang originates in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia. It is a medium-sized tree reaching a height of up to 40 meters tall. When grown for perfume extraction, it is grown not more than three meters tall for easy collection of the flowers. The flower is drooping, long-stalked, with six narrow, greenish-yellow (rarely pink) petals, and produces a highly fragrant oil. It is often strung with sampaguita to make leis offered in religious ceremonies. The famous Chanel No. 5 uses extracts of the Ilang-ilang flowers.
5. BANABA (Lagerstroemia speciosa)
|via Fredd Ochavo|
Banaba is native to tropical southern Asia. Known also as the Pride of India, It is also widely cultivated as an ornamental plant in tropical and subtropical areas.
|via Fredd Ochavo|
The leaves of the Banaba and other parts are used widely in the Philippines, Taiwan, and Japan for tea preparation. Each flower has six white to purple petals and blooms only once in a year at the peak of summer. Banaba is also one of the 69 herbal plants promoted by the Department of Health (DOH).
6. MALABULAK (Bombax ceiba)
Malabulak is often mistaken as the Fire Tree (Delonix regia) – originally from Madagascar – or the Caballero (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) – introduced from tropical America – because of its similarly vibrant red flowers. In Tagalog, it is also known as Buboi-gubat, and Taglinau. It closely resembles the Kapok (Ceiba pentandrum) which is an introduced species.
|via szuchiwang.com and wikipedia.com|
Malabulak grows up to 25 meters. It sheds it leaves then gets covered in beautiful red flowers that attract lots of insects and birds. Malabulak usually blooms in February.
Read Also: The Flavors of Bani
7. DAP-DAP (Erythrina orientalis)
Conservation Status: Least Concern
Dap-dap is a thorny deciduous tree growing to 27 meters tall. In the Philippines, it is commonly found along seashores and is frequently planted inland.
Dap-dap’s flowers are large and numerous with bright red petals. It is used in traditional medicine across its native area including the Philippines, China and India to treat a range of aliments including joint pain and parasitic infections.
8. SALINGBOBOG (Crateva religiosa)
Salingbobog, also known as Balai-lamok, is a moderate-sized deciduous tree growing to a height of 15 meters. It may be the closest thing we have to a cherry blossom.
The fruit of the tree is edible and high in vitamin C. Salingbobog’s leaves are traditionally used totreat irregular menstruation. Its flowers are greenish-yellow which turns purplish later. The flowers are filled with nectar, making it attractive to many insects and birds.
9. NARRA (Pterocarpus indicus)
Conservation Status: Vulnerable
The Philippines’ national tree, Narra is found in primary and secondary forests at low and medium altitudes throughout the country.
|via Fredd Ochavo|
Narra’s purplish rose-scented hardwood is much sought-after in the furniture-making industry primarily because it is generally termite-resistant. Its slightly fragrant yellow or yellow-orange flowers bloom from February to May and are a source of honey.