Many are familiar with the gorgeous Yellow Flame or Batai (Peltophorum pterocarpum). This native tree is fast-growing, which makes it a popular wayside tree, with spreading branches that provide shade from the tropical sun.
The bipinnate leaves have narrow oblong leaflets which are shed during the dry season, flowering profusely shortly thereafter. These clusters of flowers last several weeks, covering the ground beneath with carpets of yellow blooms. The flowers are followed by copper-red pods that dry to blackish-brown.
Due to its fast growth, the branches may be weak, and if the tree is propagated from cuttings, the shallow root system makes it unsuitable to be planted in windy areas or close to buildings.
In Malaysia, the Yellow Flame’s chief function is ornamental, but in neighbouring Indonesia, its bark is used as a yellow-brown dye for batik. Made into an astringent drink, it is used for dysentery, and externally as lotions for muscle aches.
The Yellow Flame trees line the road outside the Sports Centre, and can also be found at the basketball court near Padang Varsiti. During this current dry spell, you can see them in resplendent glory!
All photographs by Benjamin Ong.
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