Monday, March 22, 2010

The Rain Tree

The Raintree, Albizia saman, is in full bloom everywhere. It is also called the Monkey Pod tree because its pods are favourite snacks for monkeys, and also called Saman.
The Albizia was named after the 17 th century Italian nobleman Filippo del Albizzi. The Siris tree, which is a native of India , also belongs to the same family. The Saman is a native of South America.

This is called the Rain Tree because it can predict rain. Its leaves fold when rain is expected! Unfortunately for us, it has not predicted rain in more than two months. The great naturalist Alexander von Humboldt saw a giant Saman tree in Venezuela in 1799, which was already 200 years old. The tree still stands, and is the national treasure of Venezuela. There is an 80 year old Raintree in my ancestral house in Mysore.

The pods fell onto the road in the heat of summer when the tar had melted, and made a design .


  1. It is a beautiful flower such as fireworks.

  2. Ruma, the formation of the flower does resemble fireworks!

  3. Oh my, that must be some extreme heat to melt the tar of the road, but I have to admit, the pod designs are an exquisite addition. We have a similar Albizia that grows here in Tennessee, the leaves are smaller but the flower is the same. My mother loved those flowers. She called them Bird of Paradise.

  4. Like Frances said, a similar tree grows here (not native though) that is commonly called a Mimosa Tree (Albizzia julibrissin). The flowers are very soft and smell like coconut.

    That's interesting about the Monkey Tree being a rain predictor. Amazing (and scary) that summer heat melted the tar in the road.

  5. Frances, the temperature goes up to 40C (104F) here in April and May. Tar on the road melts in the afternoon heat.This year it has gone up to 35C already.Hope it will rain soon.
    Sweet Bay, I have heard about the Albizia julibrissin. The heat is much less in these parts than in the north. Hope the hot days will not last long!

  6. I never knew the significance of the name. Thank you. There are quite a few around where I live that have begun to bloom

  7. There is a similar looking plant in North America. It's hardy in the warmer areas of Canada and grows so well it's considered a weed in the southern united states. Love the flowers!