Samanea saman (Samanea, rain tree)
Viable seeds / kg (approx.): 3,900
Minimum purchase: 100 g
S. saman is distributed naturally throughout
Central America, from Guatemala to Panama and extends to South America
(Colombia and Venezuela). It is a very large tree, often 25-30 m tall, with a
short trunk up to 2-3 m in diameter (DBH). It has a wide crown, low and extended, in
the form of an umbrella supported by horizontal branches. A curious anecdote of
this tree is that it is said to close its leaves when it threatens rain and the
sky darkens, hence its popular name "rain tree".
It is usually planted as a shade tree
in silvopastoral associations, at wide spacing, typically 10-20 trees / ha, since
due to its extended crown, it is not suitable for dense plantations. Fresh
pods, either dried or ground, are an important supplement for livestock. The
pulp smells like honey and it is used to make a sweet drink in some countries.
The wood is resistant; the sapwood is yellow and the heartwood is prized for
its beautiful brown color. It often has crisscrossed fibers, which makes it
difficult to work when it dries. Its uses include construction in general,
furniture, panels and handicrafts.
It is part of evergreen forests and
seasonally dry, but in particular open savanna. It can grow at altitudes of
0-1500 masl, preferably less than 500 masl, in places with annual rainfall of
600 to 2500 mm, more than 6 dry months and mean temperatures of 20-28ºC.
It tolerates heavy clays
(vertisols) and infertile soils, but it grows better in alluvial soils, fertile
and neutral to moderately acidic. It also prefers good drainage but it tolerates
seasonally flooded soils.
Seeds and nursery
As a pre-germination treatment, the
hard seed coat must be broken by a mechanical method or hot water. This can be
achieved by making a cut or sanding at the opposite end to the micropile, or
immersing the seed in water at 80ºC for 30-60 seconds, followed by 24 hours in running
water at room temperature. For the seedbed it is recommended to use a loose substrate
such as river sand, well washed and disinfected. The seed should be distributed
evenly or in rows 2-3 cm apart, sowing it superficially with the micropile pointing
downwards. Germination begins 8 days later and the seedlings can be
transplanted when they reach 3-5 cm in height. The root is usually very long,
so it must be pruned to about 3-4 cm in length. When transplanting, be sure to
make a hole deep enough in the substrate to avoid curving up of the roots.
Shade should be provided for the first 2-3 weeks after transplanting, for
instance using shade clothing (saran) 50%. Seeds can also be pre-germinated in
a humid substrate, and transplant once the radicle appears. Plants will be ready
for field planting after 2-3 months in the nursery, when they have a height of
20-25 cm. A couple of weeks before planting out in the field it is recommended
to reduce watering to stimulate the lignification of the stems.
In the first 10 years, Samanea grows 0.8-1.5 m / year in height
and about 2 cm / year in diameter. The final harvest is expected after 25-30
years, but in silvopastoral systems trees are conserved for much longer, and
continue to increase in size for more than 100 years. In good sites they can
reach 50 cm of DBH in 60 years and 1 m DBH in 100 years. Annual volume increments
are in the range of 10-25 m3 / ha / year.
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