LOOK: Philippine trees enchant with their own ‘tropical sakura’
With April right around the corner, tourists from around the world — including Filipinos — will jet to Tokyo to see its famed cherry blossoms.
But why travel thousands of kilometers away when there are equally enchanting trees in our own backyard?
This is the call of the Philippine Native Plants Conservation Society Inc. (PNPCSI) in a Facebook post last March 17. The organization was founded by the late botanist and taxonomist Leonard L. Co and advocates for the conservation of native plants.
Pictures of native trees that can produce vibrant flowers, ranging from red to purple, were featured in a poster made by PNPCSI communications head Delmer del Rosario.
These are the Banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa), Mangkono (Xanthostemon verdugonianus), Narra (Pterocarpus indicus), Siar (Peltophorum pterocarpum), Balitbitan (Cynometra ramiflora), Donya Aurora (Mussaenda philippica var. aurorae), Bagawak Morado (Clerodendrum quadriculorare), Salimbobog (Crateva religiosa), Malabulak (Bombax ceiba) and Salinggogon (Craxtoxylum formosum).
PNPCSI mentions that tropical trees have an advantage: while the sakura needs a winter period to bloom, some tropical trees can flower for weeks, and at times, even on offseason.
“The Philippines has 3,600 native trees, and a lot of them are beautiful especially when in bloom,” PNPCSI president Menie Odulio told INQUIRER.net. “Unfortunately, the loss of our native trees is not just the physical loss of tree specimens but also the loss of common knowledge about them.”
Odulio shared some considerations on growing these majestic trees, as she encourages that they be grown in personal gardens, public parks and highways.
“These trees vary in size and habit,” she said. “Some, like Narra, Malabulak and Siar are tall, spreading trees and should be planted in areas with enough room for them to grow.”
“Others like Bagawak morado and Donya Aurora are small trees and can be planted in a small area. Rate of growth would depend on the kind of tree as well as the conditions under which it is grown,” said Odulio.
The organization hopes to inspire more appreciation of nature through education. “Some of these trees like the Mangkono are endemic to our country, meaning they are native only to the Philippines and nowhere else,” she said.
For those interested in growing native trees, Odulio said that the Facebook group Philippine Native Tree Enthusiasts has a community of private growers who sell these native trees. Some of these trees may also be available from commercial nurseries or local Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) offices.
A resource Odulio recommended in learning more about Philippine flora is the online database Co’s Digital Flora of the Philippines. Many photos of native trees in the database were provided by the PNPCSI founder.
The public can support PNPCSI’s conservation efforts by following their Facebook page and signing up as a member, or purchasing the book “Guide to the MSI Garden of Indigenous and Flowering Trees”. JB
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