Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Native Trees of the Ipo Valley

The work being done by Manila Waters and the UP Mountaineers to reforest the Ipo Watershed is a tedious task. They have already started planting a few species like narra (Pterocarpus indicus), tibig (Ficus nota) and probably ipil (Intsia bijuga). They are looking into adding biodiversity and to achieve this they wanted to survey the existing tree species present in the Ipo valley. A few months back they invited field botanist Leonard Co to identify some of the plants in the vicinity. But pictures were not taken in that trip. Fredd invited me to do the preliminary photo documentation of tree species. Along with Grace Servino of UPCA, the members of UP mountaineers and P&G EKO Adventure group, we made the ocular and took snaps of the trees present and a good percentage of it is still native. Some native trees we found are as follows:

The water loving Nauclea orientalis or bangkal was very visible. it is found at the water margins dispersed with reeds and bamboos. Previously wrote about bangkal here:

A once common tree in Luzon is alibangbang or Bauhinia malabaricum. This is different from the ornamental alibangbang we know or Bauhinia purpurata (orchid tree) which is not native. I heard stories that alibangbang were common in the Central Luzon and how the leaves were used as sinigang souring agent. This was also attributed to have aided hunger among the historical Death March survivors. In my research I have also seen B. malabaricum in Ipo and La Mesa watersheds.

Common in most grassy areas and forest margins is binunga or Macaranga tanarius. This resilient native species is a favorite reforestation material. Due to its nature, it is widespread in the Philippines from Luzon to the Visayan islands and Mindanao. The fruits are said to be edible but not sure how it is prepared. I read in the old books (probably in Filipino Heritage) that the seed is used as the bittering agent for beer but I have to confirm this.

We saw a few antipolo looking trees. These are probably either Artocarpus altilis (rimas) or A. blancoi (antipolo). I have a problem identifying fruitless trees. I always find antipolo leaves variable with different degrees of leaf sinuation.

Bangkoro or noni fruit is Morinda citrifolia. We found a few shrub size specimens along the sloped areas near the river. Bangkoros are also common along coastal areas in the Philippines.

This tree silhouette is actually a marriage between 2 specimens, a juxtaposition of 2 species. The free standing tree is probably a species of Canarium, possibly C. asperum or pagsahingan. Canarium is a genus where they extract elemi oil and this includes pili or Canarium ovatum. Some natives extract sahing or elemi oil from its trunks, hence the name. The oil is used to light oil lamps.

The second species is a strangler. I didn't think hawili or Ficus septica could be a strangler fig till I saw this. Eventually the Ficus would overtake the free standing tree and kill it. Hawilis and most Ficus species are wild crafted.

A bird favorite is binayuyu or Antidesma ghaesembilla. The close relative of the bignay has smaller rounded leaves and black minute berries.

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