Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Natives in the Hidden Ayala Nursery

Mike Asinas of Ayala Land chanced upon my web page. He was looking for supa pictures when he stumbled upon my blogs. He was excited that he found another person sharing the same passion for native flora. Mike then invited me for an ocular of Ayala Land's Alabang nursery. He said they got interesting trees propagated there and a good portion of it is native. I never say no to a chance to find and take pics of native flora. I asked Prof. Ed Gomez if he would want to come and he said yes. So both the good professor and I met Mike in Alabang Town Center last Saturday and proceeded to the nursery. It was located near one of the Ayala's new developments.

Even before I met Mike I already noticed that the new Ayala undertakings were starting to use native flora in their projects. The Fort in Taguig had dapdap (Erythrina variegata), bitaog (Calophyllum inophyllum), dita (Alstonia scholaris) and katmon (Dillenia philippinensis) among other trees in their landscape palette. I was expecting to find some new trees to add to my thesis list. And what we saw did not disappoint us.

The Nursery was actually a remnant of recent Ayala landscape undertakings. Some trees were imported from Australia, courtesy of the The Fort's previous developer, but Mike and his mentor boss (a female engineer who recently retired from the company) found ways to integrate propagating some native plants into the mix. There we found a bevy of trees growing beautifully, sourced from nearby provinces. Some were existing flora from Ayala developments like Anvaya Cove in Bataan. Mike and the Ayala staff collected seeds and propagated them.

Native trees were clumped together with introduced species like Brachychiton acerifolius (red flame tree), Garcinia xanthochymus, Xanthostemon chrysanthus and Tabebuias. But the local trees do not fail in comparison to the imported ornamental trees.

Some of the plants we found growing in the nursery are the ff:

Sapindus saponaria which Mike fondly calls the soapberry or kusebeng. He got the seeds from his Hometown in San Pablo, Laguna. It has fine pinnate leaves looking like a lace oak (which also reminds me of Quassia amara). The berries of kusebeng are used by the tagalogs as soap or hair perfume. The pendant berries also attract some local birds and are eaten by them. I googled Sapindus and it turned out this species was introduced, to our dismay because it is a beautiful tree.

This native santan was found in the Anvaya cove site and grown in the nursery. I believe this is native, probably Ixora philippinensis. It has small clusters of white flowers.

This plant is called Taxus sp. in the nursery. The plant looks like a small version of igem or Podocarpus - another native genus. The plant, said mike, does well better in colder climates but the specimens in the nursery are well established. A few Taxus species grow native in our forests.

This another unknown tree coming from the coasts of Anvaya Cove. Seeds were collected from the beach and grown here at the nursery. They resemble Heritiera or dungon late with a green leaf face with silver undersides. The leaf shape varies from maple-like when young to almost obovate when tree matures.


Orville said...

Nice to know that Ayala is incorporating native Philippine species in their plant palette! I hope the trend of using/incorporating native species will continue to grow in the Philippines. Here in Hawaii they actually have laws that encourage the use of native species in government landscapes as a way to promote awareness of these plants. The challenge though is trying to develop a knowledge base on horticultural techniques (propagation, maintenance and compatibility)for this native species.

Loreli said...

Hi Mr. Gozon,

It would be ideal if local govts would plant local species instead of foreign ones in public places like pocket parks and sidewalks. What do you think it would take to convince local leaders?

Anonymous said...

i agree loreli. even here in our city (tacloban), i contacted the regional denr office to inquire for some native trees seedlings but they were so confident to answer me that they only have mahogany. i was able to find some locals who are into gardening business and i just settled in buying the ones i was looking for gardening.

Blue Shelly said...

I'm so interested about soap berry. can you give the address on the store that selling the seedlings of soap berry tree.