Sunday, December 19, 2010

Raining Money On Rain Trees

The rain tree (samanea saman) is native to the northern parts of South America. It can grow to a height of 25 metres (80 feet) and has a characteristic dome-shaped canopy which can reach 30 metres (100 feet) in diameter.

There are many rain trees along the main roads in KK. They stand like quiet sentinels   around the Town Padang. They have watched KK grow from a sleepy fishing village to the concrete jungle it is today for many of them can easily be more than a hundred years old. The older folks of KK are familiar with Rain Tree Road, so called because of the many rain trees along the road. Sadly, many of the trees have been chopped down and the road has a new name. I guess it'd be ridiculous to call it by its old name when the rain trees are gone.

A beautiful rain tree in Kota Kinabalu. Note the dome-shaped canopy.
Why are rain trees concentrated in our big towns but seem to be absent in our jungles? Probably the British took seeds or saplings of the tree from its native home and planted them in British colonies as ornamental or shade trees. (Remember how rubber seeds travelled from Brazil to Singapore to North Borneo?)

I just found out that an old rain tree can be valued at one million ringgit! In Perak, ‘the Ipoh City Council is insuring four rain trees after they were found to be worth about RM1mil each’. (DE 15 Dec 2010) The value of the trees was determined under the Thyre Tree Valuation, developed by Peter Thyre in 1984. A tree’s value is determined by its ‘quality, aesthetics and people’s view about it’.

The rain tree's delicate brush-like flower. (Google Images)
While Ipoh insures the city’s old rain trees to prevent indiscriminate felling, guess what  Sabah is doing? Following the trend and insuring our rain trees? No!  A 100-year old rain tree in Sandakan will be chopped down to make way for a road. What a shame!

I wonder if any of you remember how many ancient rain trees in and on the outskirts of KK have been chopped down all in the name of ‘development’. I wonder, too, whether the choppers turned each felled tree into firewood or left it to rot in some dumpsite or sold it for a million ringgit.

One million ringgit would last me a very long time—I have very simple needs. You go plant your gaharu. I’ll plant myself a rain tree.


  1. sad to say.....these ppl prefer money over the value of history, just like Atkinson tower. *sigh*

  2. Don't know how many more left these oldest umbrella-shape Rain Trees we got now at the Padang Merdeka.We must preserved these trees and insure them. You can recommend my company Kurnia to do that. He he he.

  3. these are beautiful trees indeed...i wish people are more appreciative of nature's beauty.

  4. Hi all! Thanks for popping in.

    Many people have protested over the 'senseless' chopping down of rain trees especially in KK but it continues. Sometimes we were told the trees were not safe but now I wonder if there had been other reasons as well.