27 Mar 2016
Photo credit: National Parks Board
The Rain Tree (Samanea saman) is easily recognised by its massive umbrella-shaped, widely-spreading crown, which can reach 20 m to 30 m across. It has small clusters of flowers that are pinkish or whitish and are slightly fragrant. Its seed pods are thick, long, straight and fleshy inside. The pods ripen black and the seeds germinate readily into seedlings, sometimes while still inside the fruit. Its sweet fruit pulp is relished by cattle, goats, horses, pigs and even children in some countries. Epiphytes like ferns and orchids tend to perch on old Rain Trees.
The Rain Tree originates from South and Central America. It was introduced to Singapore in 1876, and by the mid-1900s, it was planted throughout the tropics.
In Singapore, a beautiful avenue of mature Rain Trees can be seen along East Coast Parkway, from Changi Airport to the City area.
The leaves consist of leaflets which fold up in the evenings. This is why the Malays called it ‘Pukul Lima’, which means ‘5 o'clock’.