Thursday, September 6

putat ng ateneo

(please excuse the the title of this essay )

what i am referring to is a beautiful tree native to the philippines and many parts of SE asia, india and polynesia.  it is common and grows in damp places along the seashore, rivers or creeks. however, with most of  metro manila's waterways paved with concrete, very few of these trees can be found in the city.

the putat: read more about it at the very useful stuartxchange

one of these places is by the creek separating the ateneo de manila university and miriam college campuses.  a fairly large (and probably old) putat grows by the culvert on the ateneo side, clearly visible from katipunan beside the pedestrian overpass crossing the road.

the putat (barringtonia racemosa) or fish poison wood (hinting at its traditional use to fisher folk) is small tree, somewhat "normal" looking. but when it flowers, its pink blooms can drip thickly from its branches and cover the ground in a carpet of pink. if only we had more waterways around the city to plant it! (too bad the mmda is no longer trying to paint the metro pink!)

i collected a few of the fallen seeds around the ateneo putat and at least three of them germinated.  hopefully i can re-plant them where they can grow and bloom.

i would have never noticed this tree if it wasn't mentioned to me by fellow-birder/native plant enthusiast cel (of the pnpcsi) and co-teacher abby (of the ateneo aemc). unfortunately, this putat, rare-tree-in-the-city, is in danger of being cleared for future road widening. katipunan traffic is no joke and this threat is very real. hopefully it won't fall victim to the concretization of the city.

the putat is one of the native trees that is not very popular, certainly not as popular as the non-native fruit trees from childhood: the duhat, atis, langka, santol and many other trees that were introduced from other parts of asia or the americas.  recently, a book on native philippine trees: Philippine Native Trees 101: Up Close and Personal, was launched.  cel was the chief photographer of the project so i was able to get advanced (and autographed! thanks cel!) copies before it comes out in the bookstores.  it talks of the kamuning, kamagong, lumbang, ipil and other native trees now more associated with streets and places than with the tree! it's a great book, filled not only with information, but delightful anecdotes from people from all walks of life.  to learn more about philippine native trees like the putat, go and grab your own copy!


  1. I saw the putat na!!! And it's in full bloom! =)

    1. Yay! I should have a good look at it again then. Text me if you want to see it up close and personal. :-)

  2. Hello! where can i buy the book -Philippine native tree 101? TIA! :)