Thai Name – Jamjuri (จามจุรี)
Scientific Name – Albizia saman (some organizations continue to use the former Samanea saman)
Family Name – Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Other English Names – Monkey Pod
Flowering Season – February-May and September-November
Native to Thailand – No
Typical Height – 15-30 meters
Rain trees are very common in Thailand and are easily identified by their wide umbrella-shaped crowns supported by massive branches. Their unique flowers look like little pink and white brooms and these last a fairly long time before wilting. The origin of the name rain tree is not known, though there are a lot of theories. The most common seems to be that the light-sensitive leaves fold up when it gets dark, such as when rain clouds come. Two other theories about the origin of the rain tree name are that a sugary juice from the flowers sometimes falls down to the ground like rain and that there can be a steady drizzle of cicada urine (called “honey dew”) when the insects are feeding – though speaking from personal experience, I can confirm that the cicada situation is not limited to only rain trees. Rain tree wood is very durable and shrinks very little, making it excellent for carving and for making furniture. In Thailand, rain trees are also now the main host tree for cultivating lac. In Central America, where rain trees are native, cross sections of the trunk were once used for making ox cart wheels.1 The rain tree is the provincial tree of Lamphun.