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Flowering Street Trees

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Today around noon was surprisingly warm, but the wind was quite strong. After the coldest winter temperature record for a long time, it was a real treat to be able to enjoy warm sun. Some street trees have already blooming and bright. Many wattle trees have been covered with golden blooms and the flowering plums are showing off their pink flowers that cover the whole tree. Meanwhile, the bare Chinaberry trees are covered with dry fruits, the whitish colour berries are dangling down the branches.

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Majestic Spotted Gum Tree

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Mottled Trunks 2

From all the gum trees, I think Spotted Gum is the most beautiful. It is also known as  Corymbia maculata or Eucalyptus maculata. The large majestic trees are native of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. The slow growing trees in average will grow up to 35 m but many will reach up to 45 m high or more.  The tallest in record was said to reach 91 m high (according to Wikipedia). The large mottled trunks are colourful with a mixture of greyish green, brown and orange pink. More

Odd Looking London Plane Tree

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… Today is the second day of Christmas (Dec.26) on my part of the world, so I am wishing all of you: “Happy Boxing Day!”

We are not planning to go anywhere today, so I have time to post another blog.

************

If you travel along Princess Highway from Melbourne CBD to Dandenong, you will notice many London Plane Trees (Platanus x hispanica) grow on the side of the road. Many are big and old.  The huge trunks branch out beautifully to provide much needed shade in summer time. Before you are approaching Chadstone Shopping Centre, near Bruce St, look out for one of these London plane trees with the most unusual shape. The big bulging trunk gives an impression that the tree is suffering from very aggressive tumour or a bad case of elephantiasis.

We passed the area two days ago and stopped to take some photos. The high level of rain water recently has made all trees grow so green. Luckily, the new shoots that are growing around the base of the swollen trunk have not fully covered its monstrous look.

What has happened to this particular tree? The rest of the trees around the area grow normally. The experts say that damage on tree trunks from abuse or disease can make them grow thicker. It is a natural respond of the tree to provide strong support.

This very odd looking London plane tree somehow proves how tough they are to have the ability to adapt harsh condition growing so close to paving area. Being grown so close to road surface, the trees are more exposed to abuse and mistreatment. They also survive dry hot summer with only minimal water to reach the ground. Although some parts of the canopy are drastically cut to make way for power lines, the remaining branches spread-out nicely and the abundance of the large foliage still provide excellent shade in the summer. Being deciduous, they let sunshine to penetrate the bare branches in winter time.

Although some people hate the mess that London plane trees can make in the autumn with a large amount of fallen leaves and spiky pods, while others blame the trees for causing allergic reaction (hay-fever), I still think that they are beautiful trees. I mostly love the rugged look of the peeling grey-green trunk and branches.

Chinaberry Tree

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One species of street trees in our neighbourhood is Chinaberry. It is a small deciduous tree with interesting foliage. During the winter time, the exposed branches are decorated with small round yellow berries. I really love the gracious shape with its rough and thick gnarled trunks. The luscious green canopy looks even prettier during the spring when the tree is flowering. The sweet smelling little flowers are star-shaped and lilac-white in colour. They are pretty and soft against the deep green leaves.

Chinaberry tree (Melia azedarach) is also known as Persian Lilac, White Cedar or Bead tree. It is native to South Asia and East Asia. It has been found growing in Australia for a long long time, so it is also considered as Australian native. All parts of the tree are very toxic to human, but birds can safely eat the berries.  It is also regarded as invasive introduced species in some parts of United States.

This tree reminds me of a song with the same title by a group band ‘Mew’. What is the connection of the tree to the song? To understand this song someone has to know all about Chinaberry tree. A beautiful fragrant little tree but very poisonous. The song is about a first love that has gone wrong. He compares her to a Chinaberry tree….. She doesn’t care anymore and like poison she hurts him so deeply.

Chinaberry  Tree by Mew

In parallel sea what would I be?
My first love said to me:
“Tears out for the world to see”
I would not be
I did not see the chinaberry tree
Tears out, it would feel so
Heavenly, heavenly, heavenly
Hard now to picture a me
Without a you

“Don’t interfere”
Part of her back was frozen
For the remainder of the war
“Don’t be concerned”
But I never learned how not to be
As my first love said to me:
“I don’t care. I’m not there”
So that I could not sleep
My whole being was falling apart
So that I soon cried out:
“Dear friends, hold me!”

*Note August 3, 2012: All parts of this tree are ALSO known toxic to pets like dogs or cats and other mammals.

Nostalgia Masa Kecil: Pohon Mahoni

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Dizaman dulu, waktu belum dibuat perlebaran jalan, didepan rumah kami tumbuh pohon mahoni (= Swietenia macrophylla). Pohon pohon tinggi dan besar ini yang tumbuh ditepian jalan tampak megah dan kerindangan daun daunnya membuat jalanan yang waktu itu masih sepi, begitu teduh dan asri.

Masih teringat jelas dianganku, waktu waktu masa kecil bersama kakak perempuanku dulu. Kami senang sekali setiap pohon pohon mahoni itu mulai rontok daun daunnya dipanasnya musim kemarau. Disaat itulah pohon pohon itu tampak  menggundul dan buah buahnya bisa tampak jelas dilihat. Buahnya ukuran dan bentuknya seperti avocado tapi warnanya kecoklatan dan keras.

Kami tahu tak lama lagi disaat musim hujan hampir menjelang, buah buah mahony itu akan terbelah oleh panasnya sinar matahari. Jarang buah buah itu jatuh dalam bentuk utuh, tapi hanya belahan kulitanya yang gugur ketanah disaat biji bijinya sudah habis jatuh beterbangan. Disaat itulah, waktu biji biji mahoni gugur beterbangan, aku dan kakak senang sekali.

Angin yang lembut menghembus menerbangkan biji mahoni dan biji yang bersayap itupun berputar seperti baling baling helicopter. Pemandangan ini selalu membuatku terkesima. Kemudian kami berdua mulai mengumpulkan biji biji itu dan melemparkan setinggi tingginya keudara. Puluhan baling baling kecil berputar  dan pelan pelan akhirnya jatuh kembali ketanah. Masa kecil waktu itu begitu sederhana, namun kami serasa lebih sadar akan kejadian kejadian kecil yang terjadi disekitar kami. Biji biji mahoni yang sedarhana itupun bisa mampu membuat kami riang gembira. Berjam jam dan berhari hari kami bermain main menerbangkan biji biji bersirip itu. Dalam imajinasi kami, biji bji bersirip itu adalah benar benar helicopter mini dengan baling balingnya yang berputar dan berputar….

Sekarang setiap kali aku pulang kekampung halaman di Indonesia, aku selalu teringat pada pohon pohon yang besar dan teduh dipinggiran jalan didepan rumah kami. Namun hanyalah kenangan yang tertinggal. Sudah lama pohon pohon itu tak ada lagi. Jalanan yang dahulu teduh dan sunyi itu memang sekarang jauh lebih lebar tapi tak pernah sepi. Lalu lalang kendaraan tak henti hentinya berlalu dari pagi hingga malam hari. Panas terasa menyengat dan debu debupun berterbangan…………

Street Tree: Washington Hawthorn

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One tree species that grows along the nature strip in our street is ‘Washington Hawthorn’ (Crataegus phaenopyrum). I like this small tree because of the small size and beautiful foliage (especially in autumn). It has pretty white flowers in late Spring and little red berries in late Summer to Autumn.

Right now this hawthorn tree in front of our property is flowering and many bees enjoy the sweet nectar. When the fruits are ripened, birds will eat them. In a few occasions, bird droppings spread the seeds. Sometimes I find the seeds grow new seedlings and I don’t really mind as they are not as invasive as the loquat trees. I pulled some off the garden bed and grew them into bonsai.

 

  • Washington Hawthorn. Botanic name: Crataegus phaenopyrum.
  • Native to Eastern USA from Virginia to Alabama.
  • Deciduous ornamental tree.
  • Nice autumn colour foliage.
  • Small clusters of white flowers.
  • Small red berries.
  • Full sun position.
  • Well drain soil.
  • Attracting birds and bees.

 

The leaves of Washington hawthorn tree look similar to Trident Maple’s (Acer buergerianum). I read somewhere that the berries are edible and can be made into jam or jellies, but I never tried to taste it myself.

Update 18/03/2011:

The Washington Hawthorn tree in front of our house has started to have some fruits/berries:

Pohon Petai

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Waktu berkunjung ke kota Bandung beberapa waktu yang lalu, aku ikutan jalan pagi. Jalan jalan disekitar perumahan Sumber Sari Indah memang unik. Orang kebanyakannya mengelilingi taman dibagian depan perumahan. Katanya kalau hari Minggu jalan masuk utama perumahan ini tak bisa dilewati karena berubah menjadi pasar makanan. Mereka yang gerak jalan kumpul dijalan masuk di pinggiran Jl. Sukarno Hatta dan ini dimanfaatkan oleh pedagang untuk berjualan disitu.

Nah apa hubungannya obrolanku ini dengan pohon pete? Waktu ikutan jalan pagi, diisalah satu jalan di Sumber Sari Indah aku lihat pohon yang aneh. Besar juga pohonnnya dan mempunyai bunga yang bentuknya seperti gasing. Pohon apa ya? Terus kupotret dan kakak-ku bilang itu adalah pohon pete. Yang bener? Seperti inikah yang namanya pohon pete?

Selama ini aku hidup lebih dari setengah abad baru sekarang aku lihat pohon pete. Aku sendiri tak begitu suka pete. Kalau makan sayur lodeh atau sambal goreng dan ada petenya aku tak pernah makan pete itu, jadi aku sisihkan potongan pete dipinggir piring berjejer. Ha….. Yang paling mengerikan dengan pete adalah baunya yang lama engga hilang. Kalau makan lalab pete, mulut dan kencing bau pete. Mana tahan itu wc-nya.

Pohon Petai

Petai (Parkia speciosa) juga biasa disebut dengan nama pete, yongchaa, zawngtah atau bahasa Inggrisnya adalah stink-bean. Selain di Indonesia dan Malaysia, rupanya petai juga menjadi kegemaran orang dari Thailand, Laos, Burma dan beberapa tempat di India.

Banyak orang menghubungkan petai dengan jengkol, walau mungkin baunya ada miripnya tapi petai dan jengkol itu berlainan jenisnya.
Jengkol adalah tanaman yang nama Latinnya adalah Archidendron pauciflorum / Pithecollobium jiringa / Pithecollobium labatum. Bagaimana dengan petai China yang bahasa Jawanya adalah mlanding atau lamtoro? Yang ini juga berbeda jenisnya dengan petai maupun jengkol dan istilah Latin-nya adalah Leucaena glauca.(Catatan: Walau petai, jengkol dan petai Cina berbeda jenisnya, ketiganya berasal dari keluarga yang sama yaitu Mimosoideae).
Ingat tentang petai China yang bijinya kecil kecil itu, paling enak kalau dimasak sebagai campuran bebotok kelapa. Sedap deh.

Kembali ke petai…… pohon petai bisa tumbuh setinggi 30 m dengan dedaunan yang rindang. Bunganya yang berbentuk seperti gasing atau bolam lampu akan rontok setelah polinasi dan dipucuk tangkainya yang masih dipohon akan tumbuh beberapa papan petai yang panjang panjang itu.

Aku pernah baca bahwa buah petai yang tua mengandung zat gula sucrose, fructose and glucose, jadi mereka yang suka makan petai akan mendapat tambahan energi apalagi kalau memakannya sebagai lalab…….

Senang juga aku bisa lihat pohon petai karena hobby-ku adalah tanaman. Bagi mereka yang tinggal disekitar Sumber Sari Indah di Bandung, tahukah anda pohon pete ini? Letaknya aku lupa jalan apa tapi kalau tak salah adalah. Sumber Resik (agak dibagian belakang perumahan). Kalau anda belum tahu tapi penasaran silahkan mencarinya sambil gerak jalan pagi….:)

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