Friday, February 6, 2009

The Resilient Flora of the Bustling U-Belt

T'was the day after Christmas and nothing was stirring at the usually busy university belt. So a colleague took advantage of the emptiness to take some thesis photos of her site. Of course, I tagged along, a sucker to take my own pics.

I intended to take pics of the old and degraded architecture, but again I was distracted by the tree finds in that part of the metro. No they are not rare species or real plant discoveries. But they are equally interesting because it is a congested area, yet plant life somehow found a way to survive amidst the concrete and synthetic confines. It was also refreshing to find that some establishments still retain areas of their small lots as open spaces.

Some talisay trees or Terminalia catappa are used as street planting.

Ficus species are expected as they could grow easily as weeds as their seed are carried out by birds. But you could see the persistence of some Ficus species. The babulong or Ficus caulocarpa could still grow to humongous proportions in the Gota de Leche compound. Its seedlings grow from cracks where there are available soil.

Hawilis or the common Ficus septica appear from nooks and crannies as well. But they also grow in front of the old PUP campus

Some old houses made use of the very ornamental Manila Palm or bungang china - Adonidia merrillii, which was a very popular landscape tree even in the Spanish period. It is a shame that the beautiful shape of the palm is very much obstructed by the electric cable entanglement.

I was surprised to see molave or Vitex parviflora, and it was in flower. But then again molave and a few other natives were garden favorites in the old Manila areas.

Then we entered the UST compound which I always love to visit. They have the last frontier of an open space still very much adorned with green and most importantly full grown trees. I specially like the UST trees as a lot of them are native and they are labelled (but sorry because some are mislabelled). Notable are a few mabolo or kamagong trees (Diospyros blancoi) which stand majestic and shaped like a young dipterocarp.

A gem of a tree is located near the UST chapel. The tree is gakakan or Drypetes falcata, a rather small tree from the Euphorbia family. There are a few lined neatly in front of the chapel building. This not-so-popular but very ornamental tree can be found wild in the island of Batanes. But somehow they found their way to landscape gardens and are becoming a good choice for growers to rear in their nurseries - hopefully.

A common tree in UST is dita or Alstonia scholaris. Some of the specimens here are quite old and impressive because of their height and thick trunk diameter. And again most specimens were in flower along the busy Gov. Forbes Avenue.

Lastly I have to post my cute UST pic - sorry to my bros and sis from UST as the UP'er in me could not resist (don't get me wrong my sisters were all UST graduates). I love that UST christmas display at the main plaza (which reminds me of pictures of Venetian or Belgian Rennaissance town squares) - just fooling around in front of the camera.

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