Albizia saman (Monkeypod)

  • TropPlant Accession Number (TPAN): 0003
  • Botanical Name: Albizia saman
  • Common Name: Monkeypod, Raintree, 5 O'Clock Tree
  • Cultivar: N/A
  • Family: Fabaceae 
  • Native To: El Salvador to Northern Columbia and Venezuela  

Albizia saman showing flowers and leaves, which are closed during a rain.
Photo by Matthew Gaston 

Landscaping Information

  • Plant Type:  Tree
  • Texture: Dense Canopy, Open below Canopy
  • Form: Domed, Spreading Canopy
  • Height (on average, in landscape use): 50'-80'
  • Height to Spread Ratio: 1:2
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Landscape Values: Street Tree, Shade, Sculptural Form, Erosion Control
  • Outstanding Quality:  Form/Silhouette, Spreading form provides Shade

Albizia saman line McCarthy Mall at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Note the young tree on the left.
Photo by Matthew Gaston 

Albizia saman. Note the full, dense, spreading canopy.
Photo by Matthew Gaston 

Botanical Descriptions

  • Flowers: Pink mimosa-like flowers arranged in an umbel-shaped inflorescence. Stamens are long and projecting, filament is white around the base and turns reddish towards the stamen. 
Albizia saman drawn by M. Blanco in "Flora de Filipinas.", ed. 3, t. 309 (1875)

  • Fruits: 6"-8" long, 0.75" wide, brownish black with tan margins, the pulp is brown and sweet.
Albizia saman fruit aka "The Monkeypod"
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Foliage Color: Young/immature: light green. Mature: Bright medium green to dark green 
  • Leaflet Tip: Rounded
  • Leaflet Base: Rounded
  • Petiole: Lanceolate
  • Stipules: leafy
  • Margins: Smooth to Undulate
  • Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
  • Leaflet Shape:  Oblong to Rhomboidal; asymmetrical  
  • Leaf Type: Twice Pinnate, Even-Pinnate
  • Leaf Texture: glabrous, soft
  • Leaf Special Notes: The leaflets fold onto each other when it rains and in the evening until dawn. This striking nyctinasty adds to the charm of the monkeypod. In Waikiki's International Marketplace, a mature monkeypod three stories tall can have its foliage and flowers enjoyed by guests on the top floor.
Albizia saman trunk and surface roots
Photo by Matthew Gaston 
Albizia saman  open leaves
Photo by Matthew Gaston 

Albizia saman leaf
Photo by Matthew Gaston 

Albizia saman showing flowers and leaves, which are closed during a rain; hence the common name rain tree.
Photo by Matthew Gaston 

  • Bark and Trunk: Rough, rugged, textured, and fissured. Highly valued wood.

Horticultural Information

  • Light Preference: Full Sun.
  • Light Tolerances:  Semi-Sun
  • Soil Preferences:  Not Particular, Organic, Moist, Well Drained.
  • Tolerances: Acidic, Alkaline, Compacted Soil, Moderate Winds, Humidity, Regular Watering, Drought (once established).
  • Water Requirements: Mature trees are drought tolerant, but may become semi-deciduous and drop leaves. Young plants need ample water to become established. The best specimen are along water sources. 
  • Notes on Maintenance: sticky fruit pods and flowers can become messy. Seedlings can germinate and become weeds, yet they are easy to control due to the long hypocotyl, a wacker or mower can take care of the plantlets.
  • Propagation: Seeds, self-seeding and plantlets can often be found under a mature tree.
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 10-11a
  • Weed Risk Assessment Score (WRA): 4, Evaluate

Most Popular Plants

Graptophyllum pictum (Caricature Plant)

Bucida buceras 'Variegated' (Dwarf Variegated Geometry Tree)

Pseuderanthemum carruthersii var. carruthersii (Variegated False Eranthemum)

Ficus microcarpa var. crassifolia (Wax Fig)

Jatropha integerrima (Peregrina)

Breynia disticha (Snow Bush)