Paraserianthes falcataria - Southeast Asia's Growth Champion By whatever common or scientific names it is known, Paraserianthes falcataria (L.) Nielsen is a valuable multipurpose tree for the humid tropics. One of the fastest growing of all tree species, it is used for pulp and other wood products, fuelwood, ornamental plantings and shade for coffee, tea and cattle. Potential uses for which it is being tested include alley farming and intercropping in forest plantations.
BOTANY: "Falcataria" belongs to the Leguminosae (subfamily: Mimosoideae). It is most widely known by its former name,Albizia falcataria but it also has been called A. moluccana and A. falcata. "Falcate' means "curved like a sickle," referring to its leaflets. Leaves are alternate, bipinnately compound, and 23-30 cm long. Flowers are creamy white, and pods are narrow, flat, 10-13 cm long and 2 cm wide. This is a large tree that regularly reaches 24 to 30 m in height and 80 cm in diameter. When grown in the open, trees form a large, umbrella-shaped canopy. Crowns are narrow when this light-demanding species is grown in plantations of 1000 to 2000 trees/ha. Trees regularly produce large quantities of seeds after reaching 3 to 4 years of age.
| ECOLOGY: Falcataria occurs naturally in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands from 10o S to 30o N. In its natural habitat it grows from sea level to 1200 m above sea level with an annual rainfall from 2000-4000 mm, a dry season of less than 2 months, and a temperature range of 22o to 34o C. Although it is likely to perform better on alkaline soils (NAS 1983), there are many examples of it growing well on acid soils. Correlation and multiple regression analysis show that topsoil depth is the most important indicator of site quality for falcataria (Dalmacio 1987). The most productive sites had at least 19-26 cm of well drained topsoil with at least 3-8% organic matter and an exchangeable potassium of 0.36 meq/100 g of soil. ESTABLISHMENT.- Seeds (42,000/kg) germinate easily and only require an overnight soaking in water. For more uniform germination, seeds can be treated with hot water, or dipped in concentrated sulfuric acid for 10 minutes followed by water for 15 minutes (NAS 1983). Seedlings are ready for planting in about three months and grow so fast in the field that one complete and three spot weedings during the first year are sufficient. SILVICULTURE: A common spacing for a pulpwood rotation of 6 to 8 years is 3 x 3 in (APFN 1987). If sawtimber is desired, stands can be thinned to 6 x 6 in at 6 to 8 years and harvested at 15 years. In fertile sites a 4 x 4 in spacing for pulp is common (Tagudar 1974). In an investigation of closer spacings, Domingo (1967) found that growth at a 2 x 2 in spacing was significantly faster than 1 x 1 in. Under ideal conditions, falcataria can reach 7 m in height in 1 year, 15 m in height in 3 years and 30 m in 10 years. Growth averages 39 m 3/ha/yr on 10-year rotations and can reach up to 50 m 3/ha/yr on better soils (NAS 1983). Liming the soil from pH 6.5 to 7.0 did not improve growth or modulation (Ordinario 1986). Providing both nitrogen and phosphorus produced a marked increase in early growth in a red-yellow podzolic soil deficient in each nutrient (Moloney et al. 1986). SYMBIOSIS: Nodulation by Rhizobium occurs in most soils with sufficient moisture and a pH ranging from 5.5 to 7.0. Inoculation enhanced growth and modulation in potted grassland soils. Nodulation of inoculated seedlings decreased with the application of 100 kg N/ha and was totally suppressed with the application of 2.00-300 kg N/ha (Garcia et al 1988). Falcataria also is associated with endomycorrhizal fungae, which when inoculated enhance its growth and modulation (de la Cruz et al 1988). GENETICS: At the Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines (PICOP) plantations in Mindanao, introduced provenances performed better than local provenances. Nuevo (1976) reported that branching...
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