Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Botanist's Choices

About two years ago I got the chance to ask Leonard Co what tree he considered the most beautiful. His answer was that he is a man of science not a gardener. He considers every tree in the forest beautiful. The mere sight of a forest tree excited him. But not contented with his answer I rephrased my question to what tree would you want to see planted in Manila. I finally squeezed an answer from him. He considered the following worthy for urban-scaping.

Choice no. 1 was Pittosporum pentandrum or mamalis. He said he would love to see this tree replace the Acacia auriculiformis as a street tree in the metro. At that time I personally have not seen a specimen of mamalis. After a couple of months I found specimens planted in UPLB at the College of Forestry. Mamalis has glossy fine slender leaves arranged in attractive whorls. Its crown is full and compact and was indeed very attractive especially when it is in flower.

Leonard's last choice mentioned was Planchonia spectabilis or lamog. He said he liked it because of the impressive filamentous flowers. I asked him if this could grow in Manila and he mentioned they could grow in Antipolo, as he have seen them growing in Eulogio Lopez Center (I got to tour the EL Center with Leonard but we did not find the lamog). Later on I found out that lamog is synonymous to what the Tagalogs call malauban (from where Mauban town was named after). They are quite common in Laguna and Quezon. The lamog flower picture was from Leonard.

Today, both trees are still unheard of in Metro Manila. I personally have not seen good-sized specimens planted in any local garden. But last year I was gifted with single small seedlings of mamalis and lamog (by Reynold Sioson and Ronald Achacoso respectively). They grew quite well potted in my roof top garden. They may prove to be promising trees for metro gardening. Leonard was right after all.

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