Monday, October 8, 2012

The Boholano Banilad

Libaong Beach in Panglao is the home of a lot of native coastal trees 
The Amarela banilad
Another banilad tree
"My favorite Bohol tree stands at the center of Amarela Resort in Panglao Island. It is a lone resilient banilad tree (or Sterculia comosa) which I got drawn to because of its very prominent red berry-like seed pods. When I first saw those pods, I thought they were cherries. Sadly I learned that they were mere capsules and not fruit at all. But the seeds are palatable which is probably why the tree attracts an army of black glossy starlings (lansijang birds). But edible seeds or not, the tree looks very interesting, with a distinct form that stands out from the rest of the existing trees and flora on that beach. So every time I go back to Amarela, I check the tree and collect the seeds that fall to the ground. I am always lucky enough to get a handful which I bring back to Manila to plant in small pots. The seeds readily germinate and easily grow to good seedling size. And, in no time at all, they are young trees over a meter tall.

Unopened buds
Seed pod details
When I worked for the Heritage Park, I planted four two-foot high banilad saplings flanking an open parking lot in the memorial park premises. The area was extremely hot and had shallow soil. I thought the seedlings would have a hard time anchoring their roots onto the hard adobe base, but they did it! Then, after a few more months, the banilad specimens grew to considerable size, despite the extreme conditions they had been subjected to, and the minimal care they had received. This encouraged me to give away the rest of my seedlings to willing recipients. I have not heard about how those seedlings have fared, but the ones at the Heritage Park are already small tree-sized. 
Discarded flowers
Young green pods
In a few more years, my banilad specimens might prove to be very handsome trees to have in any garden, even outside Bohol of course. The banilad might even prove to be an ideal tree for urban-greening. We shall see."

Fallen seeds
I wrote this article for the book 'Philippine Native Trees 101: Up Close and Personal'.  But it the article did not make it to the final book: The reason was that the tree  I described in the article was misidentified.
I  learned from Ulysses and Mam Ime that the Bohol banilad is actually malakalumpang or Sterculia ceramica.Today I again got to see the Amarela banilad.  For the almost 7 years that I was observing it, it was only today that I saw it in flower.  And more good new: I also found two more full grown trees in the vicinity.  

1 comment:

Hendersonvilletree said...

I never knew that the Philippines was so breath taking from heights, looking down on forests and I never knew it had so many tree species, I hope there is no time in the future that will involve their removal.

-Tony Salmeron
Tree Pruning Hendersonville NC