Characteristics of Brazilian Raintree (Chloroleucon tortum) in the Wild

Pithecellobium tortum
The Brazilian Raintree (Chloroleucon tortum syn Pithecellobium tortum) is a species of tree in the family Fabaceae, native to the Atlantic Forest of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Brazilian Raintree is popular as an ornamental tree, having been used by landscapers Burle Marx and Luiz Emygdio de Mello Filho in greening Aterro do Flamengo.

The wood is hard and solid, with a marble appearance, and is very durable when exposed to water. Wood is used to make decorative and artistic objects such as souvenirs, statues, and tool handles.

This tree is also useful for the restoration of degraded areas, because of its high tolerance to heat and direct sunlight, it is also less demanding on soil conditions.

The Brazilian Raintree is very popular as a bonsai subject, because of its strength and distinctive appearance, especially the color of the wood and the peeling bark that make the trunk look old. The tree is highly adaptable and easy to model, as well as its fast growth and horizontally stratified branches.

The IUCN Redlist categorizes Chloroleucon tortum as Critical Endangered (CE) since 1998.

 

Characteristics of Brazilian Raintree Leaf

Pithecellobium tortum Leaf
Source: flickr.com/Plantaholic Sheila

The leaves are bipinnate, light green, have about 3 pairs of spines, and up to 8 pairs of oblong leaflets, each leaf about 15 mm long and 5 mm wide.

 

Characteristics of Brazilian Raintree Flower

Pithecellobium tortum Flower
Source: facebook.com/Harry P. Leu Gardens

The flowers are yellowish-white, globose (brush-shaped), with many stamens and a strong fragrance.

 

Characteristics of Brazilian Raintree Fruit

Pithecellobium tortum Fruit
Source: flickr.com/River Wanderer

The fruit is helical in shape, known as “monkey ears”. Ripening occurs between late winter and early spring. The seeds are yellowish, about 5 mm long, and although abundant, the seeds have low germination.

 

Characteristics of Brazilian Raintree

Pithecellobium tortum Tree
Source: inaturalist.org/luis_felipe_barbosa

The Brazilian Raintree can grow to a height of 10-15 meters in the wild. It has a tortuous stem and can reach up to 50 cm in diameter. The bark is smooth and whitish, scaly, usually giving a white marble-like appearance. The canopy is low and rounded, up to 6 meters wide.

 

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