Monday, May 16, 2011

Summer Outpours

Thanks to for the above photo, which i found the loveliest, young trees already in full bloom.

The golden shower (Casia fistula) tree is a beautiful sight during summer here in the Philippines simultaneous with Delonix regia, and banaba (Lagerstromoea speciosa). But it is said to be an introduced species from Southern Asia. It is famous also in India, Thailand, Pakistan. As the name implies, its spikes with numerous small flowers droop forming multitudes of dangling golden beauties. Sometimes the whole tree is fully crowned in yellow without leaves, just like the cherry blossoms and Wisteria in temperate countries in spring. Butterflies, bees, birds and other insects love to frolic in its flowers. When fully exposed in a landscape this tree is an awesome accent.

I planted two trees in our property in the province, expecting the awesome view in summers, just like the photo above. I saw young trees which are already  full of flowers in some areas in the country. However, it seems our property's soil is too fertile for this plant. It is a legume so it can assimilate nitrogen from the air and use it for its nutrition. Nitrogen is known to produce vegetative growth, so ours become too vegetative and too big. We have to prune most of the very tall branches, the disadvantage of which is the limited mature branches to produce the flowers. We just leave some branches to mature and content ourselves with some few dangling yellows.

Top left shows the tall branches in summer, which we opt to lessen by pruning. Above right shows the typical golden blossoms

Against the blue sky, the flowers are so pretty. Do you notice the black bumble bee approaching the blossoms at the right! It suddenly came when i clicked.

A lot of caterpillars feast on this tree immediately when the new leaves emerge after the first rain. It is good that our tree is very big that there are enough leaves left. Sometimes a big branch lost all leaves to these green larvae with maximum length of 3 inches. They are not cute, but they arrange themselves in a nice fashion.

Can you see the single egg dangling underside a leaf?

And here is the pupa under a Tunera subulata leaf. I've looked for pupa on the tree itself, but cannot find any. It is typical for most larvae to leave the host plants when they are about to pupate. That is a defense mechanism for them.

I hope you can see the butterfly at the center of the photo. I spent much time following these butterflies. Come egg laying time, and it is a wonderful sight looking at the yellows and yellow-green butterflies literally swarming around the Casia tree. I am not sure if they are called sulfur butterflies, but they flutter their wings so fast and fly on an up-down-up-down manner, which is the courting/mating ritual. They also alight so quickly on the leaves, not leaving a few moment for me to take their photos. They also stay up there higher than other butterflies. Unlike the swallowtails, they are more difficult to document.

Above is another version of its color, however the differences in color might just be the gender. I've read that these sulfur butterflies are whites, yellows, and orange. Ours are actually yellows and yellow-greens. The latter are even larger than the yellows. I hope i can take nicer and closer photos this coming rainy season.


  1. Yeah, I do agree with you that Cassia fistula is really gorgeous when the trees are in full bloom. City Hall planted them in our area too. When flowering, they are indeed a breathtaking sight to behold. We should be proud of our cassia blossoms just like the Japanese are proud of their cherry blossoms.

    The green butterfly is really special.

  2. I saw that beautiful tree when I was at a cemetery last month. Took photos with my handphone. So, that is Cassia.

    I have photos of a pair of that sulfur butterfly; the x-rated type. You wanna see?

  3. I agree with Autumn Belle, that tree is one in which to be very proud. The cassia is every bit as pretty as the cherries and the form, in full and heavy bloom, is far more interesting than many cherries. It looks like the Golden Chain tree here,Laburnum.

  4. We call it AMALTAS here in India. Have one very old tree blooming in our backyard as of now. It makes such a cheerful sight in summers.

    Informative post n lovely pix Andrea! Was thinking of clicking some pic of the tree and posting the same on my blog. Mebbe soon coz I love it bloom. Thx for sharing.

  5. Oh, I just love those beautiful trees! Interesting pic of all those caterpillars!

  6. Love the bee just sneaking into the picture and those lovely yellow blooms, but those are some strange looking

  7. Hi Andrea, Interesting post about some of your trees. That first one is GORGEOUS... I have never seen one like that... Beautiful...

    Love seeing the caterpillars all lined up like that.... Interesting.

  8. Hi Andrea, love your blog, love the trees and the caterpillars and butterflies, not to mention the bumblebee who was an unintended subject. cheers, catmint

  9. Andrea - can you, do you, grow mediterranean plants?

  10. Wow - those caterpillars look pretty big - they could do some damage I imagine!

  11. Autumn Belle - i am proud of it and love it, that's why i planted it near our house, unfortunately it wants to get so big that i dont like it to be!

    One - I am familiar with your x-rated butterfly photos, i have many of them too, but not with this yet. They are so elusive.

    Donna - Yes i looked at laburnum in the net and they look almost the same, that's why Cassia is said to be Indian laburnum.

    EGT - some ref says this actually originated from East Indies, which i took to mean Southeast Asia. Some says it is from India. I dont know the truth.

    Holleygarden - yes the larvae are nice and exotic looking.

    Donna - you're the only one who mentioned the bee sneaking into the frame. thanks.

  12. Betsy - haha, these caterpillars are clannish!

    Catmint - oh yeah, you saw the bee too, haha, thanks for your visit.

    Diana - i wonder if you are asking me or that is an exclamation that we are planting Med plants. However, Cassia is tropical. Which med plants do you refer to? thanks for visiting.

    Byddi - yes they sometimes devour all the leaves in a big branch, but since i have a big tree, they cannot consume all. The tree still has lots to photosynthesize on!

  13. So far I've only admired the flowers of this tree. But your pictures of the caterpillars and the butterfly has added a new dimension. The blooming trees of summer are indeed spectacular!

    Thank you for the all the info about vertical gardening you left on my blog. As soon as the sunset bells are finished with the blooming, I'll be making all the changes. Thanks a ton!

  14. For some reason, Blotanical is not allowing comments. But, I wanted to tell you that your images are lovely and so are the nice collages. I happen to like your title of the post. It is very good and intriguing. Really made me want to know what is in the post.


Your comments inspire me to post more, and our conversations make life and gardening more meaningful.

However, Anonymous comments and personal back links give me problems, so i don't publish them. Anonymous + back links = SPAM = DELETE

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