Samanea saman

UBC Botanical Garden’s Eric La Fountaine contributed both today’s photographs and the write-up. Eric writes:

I became quite enamored with the impressive structure and shiny deep green bipinnately compound leaves of this tree on my recent visit to Hawaii. It can be seen in many locations in the island chain. Samanea saman (PDF) (synonym Albizia saman) is a native of central and northern South America, but is grown in many tropical regions and is a very popular tree in the Pacific. Its large umbrella-shaped canopy makes it a wonderful shade tree. It is sometimes planted to provide shade for coffee plantations.

The trees can grow quite large, attaining heights of 30 meters or more with a dense low spreading crown to almost the same dimension. Like some other members of the legume family, the leaves fold at night and on cloudy days, possibly one of the reasons for its common name of rain tree. A good collection of photos showing form can be seen on Plants of Hawaii.

Samanea saman
Samanea saman

42 responses to “Samanea saman”

  1. Alice Rogers

    I wish you would start showing measurements in feet, inches, etc. I’m an American, and I don’t deal in meters, etc. Thanks.

  2. Amy Johnson

    That is beautiful. The branching is similar to that found in the Live Oak on the southeastern U.S. coast. Thanks.

  3. Stuart

    Americans are now nearly the only people in the world who don’t use the metric system. Better get with it, Alice, before you get left behind. (I’m American, but I’ve lived abroad long enough to see the importance of understanding metric.)

  4. George Vaughan

    Alice, there are many places you can get measurement conversions. Just google measurement conversions and you will be blessed with many of them. Just be thankful that measurements are included with the descriptions. I love this site and learn every day about our growing earth. Thanks Daniel for all the swell pics and write ups.

  5. Caroline

    Beautiful tree, not too full, not too sparse, but just right. I have seen these in Costa Rica before, in the North Pacific region. Alice dear, you will have to learn on your own the importance of meters, but beware, not everyone will be able to explain that to you in English either darling!

  6. Patricia Young

    Daniel: This is one of my favorite trees. I’m from Oahu and the most beautiful specimens of what we call the monkeypod tree are located at the Moanalua Gardens in Honolulu. It’s a private garden but open to the public and must have about 30 of these trees scattered around the maniucured grassy park. The umbrella canopies are impressive, but as fascinating, as your picture shows, are the way the leaves and small branches grow in organized bunches, evenly spaced, but not touching (I have some photos in which this is more apparent. This garden is a popular spot for Japanese tours. The Japanese treasure trees and recognize these giants as wondrous miracles. I don’t live in Hawaii now but when I’m back, I always return to visit my old friends.

  7. Lynda

    Daniel, Glad you are back bringing a bit of summer into our nasty cold Eastern Winter. I’m a painter not a botanist and I get wonderful inspiration from you. Thanks.

  8. annie Morgan

    These are marvellous photos from any aspect – painterly, botanically, or just from a sense of colour contrasts. Enjoy your comments immensely.

  9. Mary Ann, in Toronto

    Beautiful and interesting tree. I love the curving branches, the wild roving look of it. As mentioned in another post, reminds me of the branches of Live Oak. Also reminds me a bit of yesterday’s linked page, the ‘Tanglings’ of that photographer.

  10. Claire on Bainbridge Island

    beautiful! Thanks. There is a place on Roanoke Island, NC that reminds of these trees, can anybody else tell me about the beautiful trees on Roanoke that seem to relate to these trees? They remind me of crape myrtles, one of my favorite trees.
    Dear Alice: deal with it–being an American doesn’t cut it..I am from the US, too, ..we must all get with the rest of the world and use the internet to figure it out, as someone else suggested. –everyone must not adapt to us, we must integrate ourselves into the rest of the world…a different meaning of integration, though familiar, for people in the US.

  11. Barry

    Alice, Alice, Alice. How about I do the work for you that you could’ve easily done by typing “length conversion” into any of the handy search engines (such as google), and give you a wonderful link:
    You may want to bookmark that, and you are *quite* welcome for it.
    Such a wonderful plant, thank you for showing it. I think these are one of my favorite tropical shade trees simply for the shape alone. It is a shame that it’s just a bit too cool to grow these here on California’s Central coast, but I guess the closest approximation in form are our native Monterey cypresses.

  12. Annie in Texas

    The flowers (seen in the Plants of Hawaii URL) are lovely, very much like Mimosa.

  13. Eric in SF

    Mimosa is in the same genus – Albizia, Annie!
    Alice – simply type “30 meters to feet” into Google and you’ll get an instant conversion. Before I internalized the conversions between metric and English I kept a browser tab open just to do these type conversions.

  14. barbara

    Dear Alice,
    It’s a shame when the claim, ‘I’m an American’ is followed by the stubborn, slightly xenophobic statement ‘I don’t do/deal in….’ This is one big world now. We can celebrate and cherish our diversity, but it’s time too, to embrace the wider picture. I’m an American too, proud of it, and have lived abroad for many years. Great to see all the website contact mentioned for conversions. I’ve used them for years and am now functionally literate in metric, though must confess to being comfortable in Imperial. How about this new years resolution for 2010 – engage with Metric

  15. Irma

    It is so interesting to see the structures of different trees. About the only good thing with winter is that I can see the trees bare and admire their different shapes. It is so graphic and they make good picture material and are about as good for identifying them as leaves and other material.
    We have been hit with very cold weather here in Sweden over the last week with temperatures down to -20 C (-4 F to you Alice) has been many years ago since we had so low temperatures for such a long period so beeing able to dream about Hawaii is just heaven.

  16. Bonnie

    A meter is about a yard and an inch. That’s all you need to know.

  17. elizabeth a airhart

    the tree is just grand
    an old chinese proverb i came across
    keep a green tree in your heart
    and the singing bird will come
    oh well metric i knit and needle conversion
    and all that- i like to think the rest
    of the world is just simply out of step with me
    it used to be beam me up scotty now its
    google me up – i know of rain trees here
    but they are called golden rain trees
    bio deversity has begun interesting year ahead

  18. Laura

    Hi Uncle Eric,
    Nice pics with the dark branches contrasting against the blue sky. Hope you enjoyed your trip to Hawaii! Always nice to getaway in the winter. 🙂

  19. Julie

    Claire, the trees you have seen on Roanoke Island that are shaped like this may be live oaks, or possibly even willow oaks.
    Daniel, thanks for the beautiful, sunny, warm (at least in my imagination!) photo.


    Thanks for these images. This is an absolutely beautiful, amazingly majestic tree at maturity. In the West Indian Islands this tree is used in the parks and rec areas while others are growing wild in the forested areas. My dining table and chairs are made of the wood from this tree which has a prominent attractive grain and reminds us of home.

  21. Andrew

    Wow… That first comment reminded me why I generally avoid comments sections. I’m an American, I think BPotD is outstanding, I don’t mind what unit of measurement you use.

  22. Deb

    Let’s all resolve for the new year to limiting our comments to simply providing information or reactions-feedback on the pix, and not indulge in unhelpful sermonizing about someone else’s comment. Bonnie’s comment and a helpful reference to conversion tables was all that Alice needed.

  23. elizabeth

    Thanks for making my day, everyday.

  24. MercyJoy

    I thought that a meter equaled a yard and three inches. I could be wrong.
    Lovely tree! I especially like the first one, with the sky peaking in through the branches. It’s snowing pretty hard here, and I enjoy seeing something from a warmer climate. Reminds me of Puerto Rico.

  25. bleitz

    A wise man said ‘the eye doesnot see what the mind knows’ We need Daniel to slow us down so we may see what the art there is in botany. Thank you!!!

  26. Robin

    The trees on Roanoke Island are almost undoubtedly Albizia julibrissin, another exotic that has found admirers far from home. The midAtlantic coastal states are home to many beauties, but the leaflets are smaller and lighter in color, and the foliage is deciduous. It was great to see these monkeypods, and when I went to the links I saw a lot of individual specimens I know well from East Maui. Quite a pleasure to relive visits there while enjoying the Lake Effect Snows here in Cleveland!

  27. Eric in SF

    I had to check the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk (HEAR) Website for this species:
    and was happy to see this species is not considered invasive in Hawai’i.

  28. Hallie Anderson

    Thank you for this instant flashback! Growing up in Bangkok, our garden was filled with 5 or 6 of these enormous trees, the trunks covered in huge climbing philodendrons. We were fascinated with how the large red ants would make ball-like nests out of the leaves, gluing them together with a sticky substance they exuded.

  29. Daniel Mosquin

    Well, I see I’m late to the conversation, and don’t have much to add other than that metric units are used because they are the standard units of science: International System of Units.

  30. andy gladish

    Respectfully, since BPOTD is my favorite daily tidbit in my mailbox:
    On one hand, this list originates in Canada, a country that has used the Metric system for many years, so we USA subscribers would do well to learn to understand Metrics.
    On the other, would it be fair to point out that the majority of your subscriber list is likely in the USA?
    Yes, the USA is a lone holdout with its odd (and oddly anthropomorphic) system of measurements- it’s also still the world’s largest economy by orders of magnitude.
    We’re different. That’s not a bad thing. Get over it.

  31. Daniel Mosquin

    I’m not too interested in carrying on this particular topic, but for the sake of providing the information, the stats suggest that web site visitors from the US for BPotD are in the minority when compared to the total, at @ 43% (though by far the largest single group).
    (I’ll also add orders of magnitude is commonly used with base-ten, so the statement implies the USA’s economy is at least 10x larger than any other country’s economy. The next largest economy is about a quarter the size (if one excepts the EU as a single economy), so that’s ~4x.)

  32. MercyJoy

    And if you think about it, the metric system makes so much more sense. I mean, isn’t a centimeter a random fraction of a foot? As in, an illogical one?

  33. Ana in Québec

    Hey what about having une traduction française?
    Haha juste joking! Thank you for making my day everyone!
    The tree architecture is awsome.
    This whole discussion reminds me that there’s a great CBC program on the 1970 conversion of Canada to the metric system :
    Bonne journée!

  34. Eric La Fountaine

    I have to laugh a bit at the metric/imperial discussion. I, an American, wrote the text. However one measures, it is a big beautiful tree. (I also note that Daniel, Canadian born, changed my spelling of metre to meter.)

    These trees were common where I visited, Kauai and Oahu. I do hope everyone followed the link to the photos on Plants of Hawaii, they show the grand form of the tree as well flowers and fruit.

  35. elizabeth a airhart

    que sera sera

  36. Wendy Cutler

    So nice to see photos from Hawaii, Eric. I never connected Albizia with Monkeypod, though I’ve known the name Monkeypod for years. I don’t ever remember seeing flowers on those trees. It was interesting to back up to the Fabaceae family on that Plants of Hawaii site and see several other trees I first learned of in Hawaii.

  37. tajalli

    These are some conversion basics:
    1 meter = 40 inches = 1 yard + 4 inches 4″ = 1/3 foot
    1 mile = 1.6 kilometer or 1 km = 0.6 mile (a 10 km foot race is 6 miles)
    Farenheit = 9/5 Celcius + 32 degrees (zero celcius is 32 farenheit, 100 celcius is 212 farenheit)
    1 liter = 1.06 US quarts or 1 quart = 0.947 liter
    where I have trouble is when converting metric mass to US cups (density and volume conversions) for recipes – now that’s hard 🙂

  38. Carol Shelton

    To quote from above, “I became quite enamored with the impressive structure and shiny deep green bipinnately compound leaves of this tree”
    I would like to have seen a photograph of these impressive leaves. The trees also are quite dramatic and remind me of live oaks.

  39. annie Morgan

    My bracing laughter for the day, even though today is the 11th.
    Could we now get on with the lovely photos, the excellent descriptions, and continue to spell “metre” the way it is supposed to be.

  40. onlyheaven

    Hi y’all, I’m from the U.S. and here are my 2 cents (for the 2 cents they’re worth 😀 LOL). This site and its main BPOTD writers are based in Canada, where the metric system reigns. For that reason alone, we should respect the fact that they offer measurements by metric and as someone else mentioned, we should appreciate that Daniel & these other writers take time to post the measurements for us.
    Look at this way Alice — While the U.S. has its rights to continue to use its current measurement system, it is always wise to be knowledgeable about the measurement system that is currently the primary system used throughout the rest of the world. A similar comparison would be each country’s rights to have its own language, but it would be wise of its inhabitants to learn English, since it is currently the primary language used throughout the rest of the world.

  41. Mary Ann, in Toronto

    Well said, Onlyheaven!

  42. Elizabeth Revell

    I love the photographs, find the information always fascinating; and have a side comment on the metric/imperial issue – Ironic that the first country to declare its independence from English Imperial rule seems to be the last to still hang on to Imperial measures … while Britain and the Commonwealth have all converted ages ago …

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