The biology, ecology and agroforestry potential of the raintree, Samanea saman (Jacq.) Merr.
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Samanea saman (Jacq.) Merr. (syn. Albizia saman (Jacq.) F. v. Muell.) is a large tree, native to tropical America, which has now become widespread throughout the humid and subhumid tropics. Although noted as a promising agroforestry species, there is little specific research that substantiates this potential. On the basis of a review of its biology, ecology and recorded uses, it is concluded that the most appropriate use for S. saman would be in an extensive silvopastoral system for cattle production. The tree provides excellent protective shade, and produces highly palatable pods that are suitable as a dry season feed supplement. Additionally, there are reports of enhanced grass production beneath its canopy indicating a potential role in maintaining or improving the productivity of tropical grasslands. It is concluded that the tree should receive more research attention, focusing particularly on its interaction with the herbaceous understorey and the identification of provenances adapted to a variety of environmental conditions.
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