Raintree, Monkey Pod, Pukul Lima
- The avenue leading up to the college (there is a new example in the traffic island outside the guardhouse).
- Behind the Humanities block, overlooking the Ayer Rajah pitch.
- Countless other locations around the campus (this is probably our most populous tree!).
REF. NO. ON COLLEGE MAP:
FORM, TRUNK, LEAVES:
The raintree has a characteristic umbrella-shaped canopy, up to 30m wide, and grows to 25-30m tall. The branches seem to ramify (fork, sub-divide) endlessly.
The bark of mature trees is grey, rough and fissured; on younger trees the bark is smoother and paler grey to brownish.
The leaves fold up at night and during rainy days when the sky is overcast.
The tiny flowers are massed in pinkish heads 5–6 cm across. The long stamens resemble thousands of red/white feather dusters held slightly above the foliage.
The fruits are 10-20cm long lumpy, black-brown pods which are nutritious (the sticky brownish pulp is eaten by cattle, hogs and goats). The pulp tastes similar to licorice and can be used to flavour chewing tobacco.
POINTS OF INTEREST (e.g. uses, cultural links etc):
The origin of the English name Raintree is disputed. Possibilities include the following:
- The leaflets are light-sensitive and fold up at night and on cloudy days, allowing rain to fall through the canopy.
- The grass under a rain tree is often greener than the surrounding grass.
- During heavy flowering stamens drop from the canopy like rain!
In Thailand, the raintree is used as a food source for the lac insect (Laccifer lacca), which is the source of shellac.
In the 1960 film of “The Swiss Family Robinson” a 76m wide and 60m high raintree in Tobago framed the family’s treehouse.
Since 1988 Singapore’s Mediacorp has had a film company called Raintree Pictures.
Check out a very informative page about the raintree on the website "How Stuff Works".
Imported to Singapore from its native habitat in the northern part of South America in 1876, the raintree is now widespread in tropical regions.
The Raintree has an extensive surface root system (just look at the examples behind our Humanities block), which may interfere with agricultural activities.
IMAGES: (Click on the image for larger view)