In built-up areas, one of the most common shade trees in Sabah towns and villages is Andira surinamensis.
It is an evergreen to slightly deciduous perennial tree that is prized for its broad, dense crown of rich green as well as thick, cool shade. If there are benches under its crown, there are bound to be plenty of weary people rushing in for a midday nap or a well-deserved respite from the sizzling heat of the midday sun.
Although the botanical name of the tree might be a bit of a tongue twister, the easy way out is to just use a shorthand i.e. andira as it is the commonly used name that is used daily. The Andira genus belongs to the Fabaceae family, which has many varieties, most of which have large crowns and good shade provided by a well-spread canopy.
Although andiras are evergreens, there is a tendency to intermittently experience leaf abscission on an irregular basis. Despite this partially deciduous character, its stature as a shade tree remains largely unchanged, except during violent storms when young trees may fall or the branches of larger ones break.
This can affect leaf loss, but fortunately the andiras, especially the more mature ones, are too tough to be rendered sterile by even the heaviest storms or strongest winds.
Snooping around an andira fruit tree can yield surprising monetary rewards.
A row of young andira trees in kg. Aerial, Kota Kinabalu. Is the guy looking for something gratifying?
Close-up view of andira flowers.
The native distribution of the andiras is primarily in tropical America where countries covered include Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, and the Caribbean islands. In its natural habitat, andiras can reach a height of up to 30 meters or more, although cultivated trees rarely exceed 15 or 18 meters in height.
The leaves of andira trees are pinnate, each bearing more than 10 leaflets. While young leaves are pale green in color, mature leaves are dark green with a glossy sheen. Most of the leaves remain on the trees except for the older ones which are overwintered during the period of irregular leaf abscission. For this reason, the shadows provided by andira trees are one of the best and most consistent.
Andira flowers are pink to slightly purplish in color. They are borne on large panicles each of which bears numerous slender branches which bear the inflorescences. A large panicle on a healthy tree can bear hundreds of flowers with more buds developing even as the mature ones begin to bloom. Although not very colorful, the large flower panicles are produced in large numbers, making them very conspicuous.
After flowering the fruits begin to appear and as they grow in size and ripen they resemble clusters of kedongdong although the latter are usually much more numerous. Andira fruits are considered small fruits as they are only about 4-7cm long and about 3-5cm wide.
Although the fruits are small in size, they are very hard and therefore pack a powerful punch that can easily take down a bird or monkey with a well-aimed shot. The fruits have a relatively smooth skin but they are not as glossy or shiny as kedongdongs.
Usually there is no problem with the roots of andira trees if there is a wide enough root development zone for it. But in the limited space of city landscaping areas, the area even for mature trees is barely 1.5 meters in diameter, and this is usually confined to a circular or square bricked border.
With little space, the mature tree has nothing to do but grow out of the limited space with large masses of twisting and bulging roots appearing above ground level, breaking up the cobblestones concrete or brick on all sides.
This shows the power of the andira tree roots, and unless the landscapers act smarter, there will be a lot more damage all over the scene. A slow stroll through the city should be enough to convince. You do not believe ? Believe it.
The stems of young andiras are normally straight except those that are neglected or not maintained. As young trees develop into mature trees, the stems elongate and widen up to a meter in diameter in the case of old trees.
Normally older trees are harvested in some communities where the trunks are used to provide income when sold or exchanged for some necessities such as clothes, farming tools, cooking utensils or even foodstuffs.
Although the wood is coarse in texture, it is of high quality and can be ground extensively to a smooth, fine surface. The wood is rather hard and heavy with colored spots ranging from yellow, brown to dark reddish brown.
As such, it is often used in the manufacture of furniture, paneling, flooring, wooden partitions, etc. With skilled hands, very fine carvings can be carved into the wood, including stumps and joints.
Cultivation and propagation
Andira trees are easy to grow. They must have a sunny or at least bright location for them to grow vigorously. Most general soil conditions are acceptable, including marginal, brushy land or neglected areas. Rich soils or sandy loams or top leached topsoils should provide a very productive growing medium that can enhance the tree’s rapid growth rate.
If the soil is perpetually moist or slightly moist, the growth rate may be even faster. Such growing conditions can help two-meter seedlings to reach heights of up to 15 meters in 7-12 years, and at the same time reach a trunk diameter of about one meter at a height of this. this.
To create the right conditions for such rapid growth, the right procedures must be followed so as not to hinder the rapid natural growth rate. This should start from when the planting hole is prepared until the planting and staking of the young tree is complete.
A good planting hole should be one cubic meter and it should take a lot of heavy labor in digging and moving the soil which can amount to several hundred kilograms. An enriched topsoil should then be filled in and firmed up while placing the sapling’s soil ball right in the center. Tamp the soil all around the sapling, then tie the stem at two points to a stake firmly planted in the ground. When this is done, water the sapling slowly, making sure the water soaks into the soil well.
Young trees can easily be started using seeds collected from fruit trees. Alternatively, layers or cuttings can also be used although the seeding process normally produces the highest percentage of success. For best results with seeding, heat or physical treatment may be necessary, but not absolutely necessary.
On many occasions, it is possible to see that there are many already sprouted seedlings growing and thriving well under the fruit andiras throughout the city. A half-day foraging session under the canopy of these trees should produce substantial numbers of these seedlings, confirming that such sessions can sometimes be very rewarding.
On many occasions, young trees need to be firmly supported after planting. This is especially the case if they are tall with a fairly large crown, which is the result of too long a stay in the nursery. An easy fix for many workers is to use a single stake to which the sapling is tied at a single point.
It is a way to make money easily and quickly, but the loss lies in the probability of instability of the sapling after the planting exercise. This loss can be seen in sloppy or tilted positions of young trees, with the result that as the trees mature they appear to be untidy, uneven, and of poor quality.
A better suggestion would be to use double stakes, with one on each side of the sapling. If the stakes are fixed firmly and vertically, young trees are unlikely to face the problem of goyang-goyang.
But the best option would be to use a tripod system to lock large trees into a position of unshakeable stability and as such the growth and development of the young tree should be healthy and gradual.
With beautiful and beautiful trees everywhere, the Sabahans, especially the townspeople of KK, are indebted to the geniuses of DBKK for working hard and working through such momentous ideas as growing Andira surinamensis trees on a large scale.
Pinnate leaf with multiple leaflets.
A solitary green fruit.
A beautiful tree can also cause damage with its powerful roots.