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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

INTERMISSION: NOT ANWAR'S KOTE MAMAK


Definitely not Anwar's.

The name is Cassia grandis. The plant, a medium size tree is an introduced one likely from/through Burma-Thailand. It prefers dry areas.

The more than foot-long fruits dangling from tips of branches are green in colour and turn black when ripe. They are ribbed and bengkok.

The Malays (northen states) called them Kote Mamak. I don't the think trees are happy to have such a what-you-see-is-what you call name. I tell you why later.

In the ripe fruit are many flat, roundish seeds covered with thick blackish mucilage which are edible of sweet-sourish taste. Kids like them and were sold at 20cents each in Kedah.




Left: This leguminous tree is also known as pink shower or coral shower.






Right: A 22 year-old, heavy fruiting tree in arboretum at MARDI Station Hilir Perak grown from seed obtained from a tree at Marang's beach. It is thought that such a hardy tree species can be useful as shade trees for cocoa.

Kote Mamak is definitely an abnoxious name. The edible fruit, pink flowers and nitrogen fixing (?) roots as many leguminous plants are can be useful for agriculture and landscape.

How a landscape architect could advise a housewife that a Kote Mamak is good for shade tree without blushing? In the end people shy away from using the tree for whatever purposes, as it is happening now hence leading to its rarity. Who knows it may have medicinal/aphrodisiac properties?

We have to give a good name to the tree away from the courseness of language. Kasia grandis? (grandis maknanya besar!)





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