Monday, May 24, 2010

Identifying the Seed.......Kalumbibit!

It was one of those trade exhibits held during an annual convention in Palawan of 2004 when my friend and I decided to check out what products were being sold. There were all sorts of novelty items such as clothing, handicrafts, furniture, delicacies and the like that were being showcased from this province. But what really caught my interest were these dangling wooden like seeds that were hung by a nylon thread to make a curtain.

I asked the seller what kind of a tree it was and he said that it was a huge tree from the forest. I don't remember the exact name of the tree, which the vendor himself was unassure of, but it sounded like "dalogdog" or "dagogdog" or "dalugdog" or something to that effect. I asked him if he could get me fresh seeds and so on the following day, I was able to purchase what I had just ordered.

The seeds was just something that caught my attention because it was smooth, circular, semi-glossy, had curved lines that looked similar to grains or rings from the wood. It looked hard and solid so I assumed that it came from a hardwood tree. I was making observations and assumptions at the same time, but one thing that is certain is that I was determined to figure what it was.

Arriving back to Manila, I began my search through the power of the net. All I could find was that the word "dalugdog" means thunder in the visayan dialect.....It seemed like a dead end to my search until a few months later when I was passing the street of Evangelista going to Quiapo church that I noticed the same seeds being sold by vendors who were peddling medicinal herbs and wild crafted items of sorts supposed to cure ailments to warding of bad spirits from medallions and trinkets.

Alas, my search was again fueled with the name that I obtained from the vendor, which was "Kalumbibit". For the first time, Kalumbibit or Dalugdug (Caesalpinia crista) registered to the site of Philippine Medicinal Plants which contained images, description and enumerated uses. It was as sigh of relief as identifying the kind of seed it was made things clearer. The next challenge was getting to know the specific requirements and habit of the Kalumbibit.

I would consider Kalumbibit as a woody liana or shrub that tends to gregariously climb up trees in order to reach more of the sunlight. Branches are barbed with spines good for warding of passers-by. The leaves are bipinnate and compound, evident that this is a leguminous type and the rachis (leaf stem or a main shaft) are also covered with recurved spines. Once you've hooked your shirt or skin onto one of these thorns, escaping would be hard because pulling yourself out of the situation will only ensnare you more so better keep still and pull them off one by one is the proper technique to free yourself. Seeds are found inside spiny bristled pods, which are packed in one or two's. It has a hard outer coating so scarification would be the easiest method that I learned in germinating it......And yes, I have tried this plant as a live fence. My only advice is that constant pruning or maintenance should be done in order to contain it in place, because once it has been neglected, you'll find a hard time putting things in order so to speak!


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