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Albizia saman
Raintree

(drawing to come)

Origin

Central and South America.

Ecology

Annual rainfall: 600-2500mm.

Normal temperature range: 20-35C.

Altitude range: 0-1000m.

Seasonal adaptability: tolerates 2-4 months dry season.

Soils: acidic to alkaline, pH 5.5-8.5, clay or sands, can even withstand seasonally waterlogged soils.

Light requirement: high.

Description

Height at maturity: 40m.

Diameter at breast height (1.3m) at maturity: 2m.

Form: fair (plantations) to poor (in open pasture); large crown.

Coppicing ability: fair to excellent.

Growth: can attain a diameter at breast height of 18cm in 5 years.

Other: fixes nitrogen.

Primary advantages

Good quality timber for carving; ideal shade tree, with a high tolerance to a wide variety of sites.

Primary disadvantages

Top heavy and shallow rooted; spreading crown can occupy a wide area; foliage is sometimes atacked by defoliators.

Products and yields

Wood products: timber for carving and furniture is high quality, with production of 10-25m3/ha/yr under a 10-15 year rotation. Wood density is 0.6-0.7. Wood can be carved when green.

Fuelwood: 5200-5600 kcal/kg, high quality charcoal, but wood burns with a lot of smoke even when very dry.

Fodder: pods contain 12-18% protein, are 40% digestible, and are favoured by cows and goats. Leaves are also palatable.

Other: used to rear lac insect. Tannin, gum, and honey from prolific flowering. Pulpy pods are edible.

Propagation

By seed. Seedlings should be transplanted using containers.

Seed treatment

Place seeds in hot water for 3 minutes, then soak overnight in cool water.

Management

Can be pollarded, lopped heavily or coppiced to provide fuel.

Agroforestry uses

Used as a shade crop for coffee, vanilla, nutmeg, and cacao. Good shade tree in pasture systems and can be grown as a hedge tree if lopped heavily.

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