Thursday, March 24, 2011

DAP-DAP or another Erythrina sp.?

Three years ago, I took photos of the stunning red to red-orange flowers borne on the trees terminal branches. From the bark, stance, leaves up to its flowers I am positive that it is none other than the Dap-dap tree (Erythrina orientalis). After its flowering season, I would be on the look-out for seed pods that might be visible. But to my dismay, I never was able to see any. I wonder if there are no pollinators in our area.

Yesterday, as I passed by the neighbor's house the trees that were flowering weeks ago were cut of its limbs and main trunk. Thinking about it, I remember that a mature Pagsahingin (Canarium asperum var. asperum) tree was felled a few meters away, about 2-3 yrs. ago. And yes, also from the same neighbor..... Anyway, going back to the Dap-dap trees, branches that were chopped into several pieces were scattered around two individual mature trees.

I get sad whenever mature trees that I regularly see or visit are being felled one by one. The future of our endemic and indigenous trees seem bleak! The only consolation to this particular situation is at least, the said trees are still alive. That's what is important!

Thinking of turning this situation into something positive, I started to gather several branches as it still looks freshly cut. Never mind if the branches had minute thorns that prickled my hands. Fortunately, I had my trusted bolo with me to cut away the excess and protruding branches and so I was able to gather several cuttings of 2-4 inches thick and about 2-3 feet long. I think that I read somewhere that cuttings from the Dap-dap tree can be used to propagate this species. I also noticed that some of the terminal branches to which the flowers use to attach had stout, clumped (lymph node like), greenish growth at the terminal buds. Thinking along the line that could this be a sign of early fruit development? It doesn't look like its going to be a pod, which is what some literature regarding the fruit of a Dap-dap tree would be. I'm thinking that could this supposed Dap-dap tree be another species? If not, then what are those greenish bulbous developments that I found? Could it be some kind of a disease? I guess that there's a slim chance that I will ever know, since only one tree had a few branches retained. The other tree was completely topped cut........After which I immediately proceeded to our property and planted each and every cutting to their designated area. Hoping that at least one cutting would eventually grow into a tree.................... (to be continued)


Andrea said...

Hi I am new here. In our area in the province that tree branches are really planted "sa patutuhan" or marginal areas as posts to delineate ownership and they really produce shoots and become trees. They normally use trees like this so they wont change the fence post often. I did not know it is called dapdap, though heard that word already.

Rico said...

Hi, Andrea! Thank you for sharing this valuable information.

The weather hasn't been cooperative in bringing rain in our area for the past three weeks now. I think I need to have them watered regularly for the branches to grow new roots.

Wish me luck!

Bom said...

Someone told me sadly that many Filipinos are not just fond of trees but that they dislike trees. He thinks it has something to do with having to sweep the fallen leaves and to trim the branches regularly. I wonder why your neighbor even bothers to plant trees at all.

I think it is very good that you are trying to make more people aware of our native trees and to entice them to plant more. I wish you luck in propagating the branches you got.

Rico said...

Bom, this specific tree and neighbor that I am referring to is in the province. I assume that the Dap-dap trees here are wild (native in the area) or planted decades ago.....Not all Filipino's are like this. There are just some "rotten apples" that make the greater population look bad, just like any place or country.

I think that there is a misconception about the trees and that people often look at it as a threat to property once the strong typhoons come. We are in a tropical country after all. But I think that in every problem, there are several solutions that can be taken into consideration. Careful planning is all we need and maximizing the potential of everything around us, including the various species of plants and trees that make our country so special.

It's a good thing that you've raised the issue of people planting and then cutting or removing the trees after a while or when they get tired of it. I've also wondered why some people are like this. Maybe I will blog about this in the future.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts here. I do enjoy reading your blog posts at as well. Keep it up!

1784 said...

You're right, dapdap can be propagated from cuttings. It's hard to find mature trees lately since there was a blight in the late '90s that decimated practically all the dapdaps in the country. I see some now regenerating along the SLEx though. Some years back, I saw quite a number flowering in Basco, Batanes but just like you, it was too early to obtain seeds the short time I was there.

Recently, I managed to cut from a friend's stock and now they've rooted and in fact, I've transplanted some already.

Rico said...

For all those who shared your thoughts, thanks!:)

Anonymous said...

hi! is dapdap a variety of fire tree?...i wonder what do they call those trees in Madrigal business park at alabang? it also has orangy flower like dapdap but the leaves are like ipil-ipil's...thanks!

Rico said...

I haven't been to the Madrigal business park, so I cannot confirm what you are referring to. You can email me the picture of this tree/plant if you want? Maybe I can try to determine its name.

Dap-dap and Fire tree are leguminous trees but they are of different genus. Thus, one is not a variety of the other.

Olan Carub said...

Sir Rico, "dap-dap" is also known as "bag-bag" (fire tree). It is an ancient tree on the part of our tribe - Gaddang of Nueva Vizcaya. This Tree symbolizes courage and bravery. Before the coming of the Spaniards, our ancestors used to devote their bravery in an ancient traditional way of defeating an enemy when the time the flowers would turn into blossom red color, i.e. fire tree., it signalled "headhunting" season. That was a past customs and traditions. At this moment, I devoted myself to search the remaining "bag-bag/dap-dap" and presto, I have found them, in Baguio City and La Trinidad, Benguet. I wish i could collect seeds when I will be able to visit those places again. Thank you for this amazing discovery and information Sir Rico.

Rico said...

Olan, thank you for sharing this important information. It is sad that most of our endemic/indigenous Philippine trees have been neglected or oftentimes succumb to man's destructive ways. Sad to say, customs and old traditions are also lost along the way.

You mentioned that you are from Nueva Vizcaya and that you've searched for the remaining Dap-dap trees only to find it in Baguio and La Trinidad. I am curious, what happened to the Dap-dap trees in Nueva Vizcaya?

Anonymous said...


I am trying to find the Erythrina variegata(coral tree). I need 30 pcs. Anyone can help me here. Thank you

Rico said...

Anonymous, Erythrina variegata o Mottled-leaf dapdap is an imported/exotic tree. I only promote endemic/indigenous plants and trees here in my blog.

Thanks for visiting here. :)

Karst said...

Hi the fruit like structure u hace noticed in the shoots werr not fruits but sign of insect infestation majority of our dapdap trees anr now infested and about to die... Sad

Ronwell Pineda said...

i believe that the the said trees found in Baguio and Benguet byMr. Olan is not Dapdap but rather Rarang (Erythrina subumbrans). Based on what I learned, Dapdap are species mostly found in lower elevations, particularly beach areas. this same case of misidentification between Rarang and Dapdap were an issue in our locality wherein local people said the trees were Dapdap but when I asked my Professor and brought leaf samples, he said that it was Rarang. I also confirmed it by attending a seminar on plant taxonomy.

Also, these two species have their distinct characteristics to be differentiated. These may vary but I'll share some..

A Dapdap tree develops prickles when it matures, unlike Rarang, it develops prickles when it is in juvenile or young stage that when it matures, the prickles disappear and become more likely hoops on the bark surface (almost same as Earpod). Another is like I said earlier, Dapdap could be found on lower elevations while Rarang is otherwise.

Rico said...

Sir Ronwell Pineda, thank you for sharing your thoughts, knowledge and experience with us here. Your comments are most appreciated.

I cannot say much about Erythrina tree species in Benguet as I haven't been to that area. Baguio on the other hand is a place that I would love to go back to simply because the weather there is very different from the hot and humid climate that Manila has to offer. I have not been able to see existing trees when I was in the area before. I suppose that the trees were not in their flowering season at the time and so I was unaware of their presence.

Sadly, the propagation's from the Dap-dap cuttings that I did before did not survive. The month of March is not a good time to plant any kind of tree or plant simply because the plants are too stressed from the hot and dry weather, especially in our place in Laguna. Unless of course you have an irrigation system or watering on a regular basis would not be a problem.

While that may be the case for the Dap-dap, I do have young Rarang trees planted in our property that I have collected several years ago from seeds that I have germinated. I have not seen them flower, but I will definitely inspect and verify your observation regarding their thorns.

Thanks again and hope to hear from you soon. ;)

Ronwell Pineda said...

well Sir Rico thanks also, especially for promoting the propagation of Native and Indigenous species here in our country.

I also want to comment to Anonymous that Coral Tree is not Erythrina variegata, which is correctly named by Sir Rico as Mottled Leaf Dapdap. If I recall Coral Tree should be Erythrina fusca, which is an exotic/introduced species.

Rico said...

Hi Sir Ronwell Pineda! According to wikipedia,

"Particularly in horticulture, the name coral tree is used as a collective term for these plants. "Flame trees" is another vernacular name, but may refer to a number of unrelated plants as well. Many species of Erythrina have bright red flowers, and this may be the origin of the common name. However, the growth of the branches can resemble the shape of sea coral rather than the color of Corallium rubrum specifically, and this is an alternative source for the name."

With regards to Erythrina fusca or Anii, this is not marked as an exotic or introduced species from the Revised Lexicon of Philippine Trees by Rojo.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Sir. Plant names and identification are so confusing at times that we need to cross check several reliable references.

Joys T. said...

Good day. There's a woman here who happen to be a "manggagamot" told us something about dapdap tree. She claimed that this tree is really good for healing process like for wounds/injured. She describes dapdap a tree with many thorns. We thought that this could be a big help for my mom, we've been searching for this and no dapdap tree present. I've really no idea whatis it looks like so 've decided to search and found your article. It's amazing that there's someone like you who appreciates and tried to propagate dapdap tree. Thank u forthe information.

Joys T. said...

Good day. There's a woman here who happen to be a "manggagamot" told us something about dapdap tree. She claimed that it is really good for healing process like for wounds/injured. She describes this as a tree with many thorns. We thought that this could be a big help for my mom so we've search for this and no dapdap tree present. I've really no idea whatis it looks like so i've decided to search for it and fortunately ive found ur article. It's amazing that there's sumone like you who appreciates and tried to propagate dapdap. Thanks sir for the information.

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