Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Angsana Trees are in Bloom!

One does not need to spend much time in Malaysia to realise that shade is the main factor for drivers when choosing a place to park their cars during the day. And the number one choice for shade tree has to be the Angsana (Pterocarpus indicus, aka Pokok Sena in Malay;

The Angsana is a large deciduous tree of the Leguminosae family (has pea-pod-like seed pods) which grows to 1o meters in height and has a large oval crown. The leaves, pinnately-shaped (small ovals, and with two opposite each other along the entire branch) drop once a year (thats what deciduous means), but are quickly replaced. The tree produces pale yellow flowers in great profusion (see photos) and will occasionally fall to the ground during rainstorms, leaving a yellow carpet.

One of the things that I love to do in the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, is to ride either the LRT or Monorail which are mostly above-ground and at the same level as the crowns of the shade trees lining KL's roads. I have noticed that the Angsana is one of the most widely-planted trees, which makes KL one of the more beautiful cities in Asia.

(Photo left: borrowed from until I get my own photo shot)

They say that the one drawback of the Angsana is that their roots grow close to the ground surface, and in fact, above ground near the base of the trunk (called a buttress root system). Thus, they are not suitable for planting close to drains or roads as they will push the pavement upwards causing a buckling and cracking. For me, I like that: it is just nature trying to take back the land!

One morning last week, after an early morning rainshower, I walked to work (5 minutes) and through the flower carpets of several Angsana trees along my route. As shown in the photos, Malaysian drivers love the tree for the shade it gives their PRECIOUS PRECIOUS cars. In fact, they will even walk across the street to the jogging park in order to park in the shade of an Angsana rather than park in a sunlite spot closer to the jogging track!! Amazing behaviour. Amazing tree.

(Photo right: courtesy of The Malaysia Star


  1. Love this tree. Lived for nine years under the shade of a mature angsana tree. When it bloomed from around the month of March until May every year, it used to carpet the house and compound. Truly beautiful. I always keep an eye out for this tree.

  2. Yes, just today I noticed that the Angsana near my house have just burst into bloom. Gorgeous trees and well-needed shade.