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Which Trees Should We Plant in the City?

Not all trees are created equal. Find out what types of trees we should plant in order to make Manila safe during the typhoon season.

More than a century old, this acacia tree, also known as “centree” in Bicol University, was uprooted during the onslaught of Typhoon Glenda. Photo credit: Dennis Mirabueno
More than a century old, this acacia tree, also known as “centree” in Bicol University, was uprooted during the onslaught of Typhoon Glenda.
Photo credit: Dennis Mirabueno
Photo credit: Dennis Mirabueno
Photo credit: Dennis Mirabueno

In a typhoon-prone country as ours, it is common to see roads, backyards and streets dotted with fallen trees after a severe storm. The sight is heart-wrenching: massive, sometimes centuries-old giants knocked down, their complex system of roots wrenched free from the soil. It becomes even more distressing when these trees cause damage to property, or even worse, fatalities.

Lately, there has been an increased public awareness on the importance of planting native trees. The logic is that since these trees are indigenous, they are made to withstand local weather, even extreme conditions such as droughts and typhoons. Check out some of the locally bred trees recommended by the Haribon Foundation for urban greening:

  • Narra (critically endangered)

With a potential height of over 130 feet, this sturdy tree provides ample shade in open areas. It also boasts of a deeply penetrating and spreading root system, making it harder for typhoons to uproot. The good news is that it can be cultivated from the cuttings of its mature branches.

Don’t be deceived by the Niyog-Niyogan’s size. This shrub or small tree packs a punch! Growing up to a height of 22 feet, it’s not just a pretty ornamental plant, it also has deep, penetrating roots that make it resilient against strong winds. Here’s a bit of trivia: It’s even more typhoon-resilient than the much bigger Balete tree!

It’s fast-growing, requires only partial sunlight, and drought-resistant. What more can you ask for? The sturdiness of the Molave tree has been part of local knowledge for centuries. In fact, it was even mentioned in President Manuel L. Quezon’s speech: “I want our people to grow and be like the molave, strong and resilient, rising on the hillside, unafraid of the raging flood, the lightning or the storm, confident of its own strength.”

Forget the fire trees. Their red-orange leaves may look nice, but these exotic trees have softer frames. Why not plant more Talisay trees, whose leaves turn from yellow to red before they are shed off? Furthermore, they’re indigenous and sturdy.

Commonly cultivated in Bicol, this versatile tree can be used for a variety of products, from fragrance to baked delicacies. With a maximum height capacity of over 90 feet, this tree has been proven to survive the elements in typhoon-prone Bicol.

Check out the other trees that have made the typhoon-resilient shortlist. Which of these are familiar to you?

  • Katmon (vulnerable)
  • Kamagong (critically endangered)
  • Bitaog (least concern)
  • Tindalo (endangered)
  • Lumbang (not threatened)
  • Agoho (not threatened)
  • Alim (not yet threatened)
  • Banaba (not threatened)
  • Antipolo (vulnerable)
  • Tuai (not threatened)
  • Tangisang Bayawak (not threatened)
  • Kupang (not threatened)
  • Lipote (not yet been assessed)
  • Toog (not yet been assessed)
  • Anonang (not threatened)
  • Balitbitan (not yet been assessed)
  • Binayuyu (not yet been assessed)
  • Botong (not threatened)
  • Takip Asin (not vulnerable)

Source: Haribon Foundation

Related link: Top 5 Typhoon-Resilient Trees

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