University of the Philippines Los Ba√Īos Tree Walk

University of the Philippines campus , Los Ba√Īos , Laguna – Philippines

I saw this event invitation via face book group  in the middle part of July and after checking my schedule. I quickly sign-up and confirm a slot for the UPLB tree walk  and organic farm tour via face book after exchanging few calls and test messages from the organizers.  Mrs. Moje Ramos-Aquino gave me the contact information of   Mrs. Agnes Del Rio who is from the Quezon City area.

It was a wet day when I met Ms. Agnes del Rio in Cubao , Quezon City . Together with her husband , our group went to the SLEX Station and met a couple of people who are also going to Laguna and an over night trip to Candelaria , Quezon province. From the initial few people, the crowd swell to more than a dozen. Everyone took time taking pictures and sharing stories.

We then headed our way to University of the Philippines in Los Ba√Īos , Laguna. The group waited for a few minutes and our small crowd suddenly swells to more than 50.

Dr. Roberto E. Coronel under the Royal Palm – Roystonea regia

Roystonea regia or Royal Palm was introduced and planted within the campus around 1933 and 1934 . Most of the palm are almost 80 years -old !

We were then met by Dr. Roberto E. Coronel and he proudly displayed his hat with UPLB batch 1960 . Which means that he is an alumnus of the University for more than 5 decades or a Golden Jubilarian !

Dr. Coronel together with the participants within Majestic Palm Promenade

He acted as our tour guide for UP Heritage trees walk. Most of the trees that were listed in the leaflet played a major role in the development of the campus,  molding its alumni. These living trees are silent witness  of UP campus history.  According to the UP Heritage marker,  UPLB is the only known campus in the country with an avenue of Majestic Royal Palm , UP president Mr. Rafael V. Palma expressed his interested and pleasure for having planted in this campus as president of the university in December 15, 1933.

Campus Notes :  (The Makiling Echo, Volume XIII, No. 1 January  1934 issue)

Kapok Tree or Ceiba pentanda from Tropical America

This kapok tree with hundreds of seedlings is said to have originated from the tropical America. This tree specimen was tagged by UPLB community in 2008 , However according to Dr. Coronel , this tree is still young when he was still studying in the area. He estimates that the tree is no more than 70 years -old. Kapok tree can grow up to a height of 150 feet or more and its puffy whitish cotton like fiber can be used as stuffing for mattress and pillow.


Some of the trees were more than a century ‚Äďold, while some trees played an important part of the campus life, while others are prized for their rarity and beauty! Although according to Dr. Coronel not all of these trees are century-old.

Dau/ Dao ( Dracontomelon dao) ( Blanco )Merr. & Rolfe

This tree serves as an inspiration to National Artist Leandro V. Locsin , for the design of the student union building . The columns projecting from the ceiling to the ground is a mimic of  the flaring Dao trunk and buttress.  In April, 2005 the  National Committee on Monuments and Sites , National Commission for the Culture and the Arts  declared in its resolution 2005-07 recognizing the intrinsic cultural value of this tree.  More recently regent Romulo Davide in his letter be named the Centennial Tree after it had survived countless of typhoons  other than Milenyo last September 2006.

Dau tree leaning a few degrees toward the building

This tree had sparked a few debates in the past since there are threats and calls to cut this tree because it had been leaning towards the buildings and may cause havoc whenever a strong typhoon or wind can easily toppled this majestic tree. However environmentalists and alumni had express to preserve this historical tree which is said to be  hundred of years -old .

It is very sad to see that some of the old ‚Äďtrees were being cut down indiscriminately for development in some parts of the country.¬† Few other colleges and universities can boast of having at least one or two heritage trees like those of Far Eastern University (Akasya) , De La Salle University ( Botong )¬† , University of Santo Tomas ( Narra) and Metro Manila College ( Duhat ) . UP takes pride of their trees, and the university can claim of having the most number of heritage trees that can be found within their campus premises both in Diliman and Los Ba√Īos.

college of agriculture historical marker installed in 2009

According to Dr. Coronel , the UP centennial tree walk was launched in June 18, 2008 in time for the founding of the University. While a historical marker¬† installed by National Historical Commission of the Philippines¬† marked the centennial of UP establishment in Los Ba√Īos.

rows of santol tree ( Sandoricum koetjape ) with fruits

Some of the streets within the campus were named after specific fruiting trees like Mangga, Pili , Santol.¬† Explaining¬† ‚Äúwhy‚ÄĚ these streets bear the name.

In some parts of the country – streets, place or town that are name after the specific trees, plants that were found there ‚Äď (or used to be found there?). Examples are Balete Drive , Kamuning ,¬† Santol, in Quezon City .

Fertility Tree of University of the Philippines- Los Ba√Īos

We pass several old buildings, and have seen a couple of  old rain tree more popularly called Akasya  (Samanea saman ) .The tree is a natural spreading natural landmark in the campus  which is contrasted by a tall vertical of the Rizal Centenary Carillion designed by National Artist Leandro V. Locsin .

UPLB version of UP Diliman carillion

Popularly , it serves as an umbrella to conceal dating sweethearts and lovers thus getting its humorous and popular name among locals as the ” Fertility Tree ” .

group picture under the fertility tree

Dr. Coronel and Mrs. Aurora Guanzon admiring the flowers of¬† Mussaenda Do√Īa Aurora¬†

This is a tropical shrub or sub-shrub that will grow to 10ft tall in tropical areas, but more likely will reach 1-3ft tall in containers. Clusters (corymbs) of small, tubular flowers with five spreading lobes bloom in summer, however it is the large and colorful, ovate, leaf-like sepals (to 3‚ÄĚ long) that provide the real ornamental display. Some individual flowers in each cluster will develop a single enlarged sepal. Elliptic to ovate, bright green leaves (to 6‚ÄĚ long). Hybrids typically feature flowers in red and/or yellow with showy sepals of white, bright red or pink.

ordinary form

No other ornamental flowering plant¬† has gained wide acceptance in the Philippines as that of the mussaendas. Collectively known as Do√Īas, they are cultivated throughout the country. The mussaenda hybrids are considered a¬† breakthrough in Philippine horticulture industry . They are also very much sought after in the tropical countries.

This flowering shrub can reach 10 to 12  feet tall

Discovery :

The development of the mussaenda hybrids gained momentum when a mutant of the species Mussaenda philippica variety aurorae was discovered by Professor¬† Hugh Curran and Mamerto Sulit in¬† Mt. Makiling, UP Los Ba√Īos in 1915. This species was named ‚ÄėDo√Īa Aurora‚Äô in 1938 in honor of the wife of the late President Manuel L. Quezon . The late Dr. Dioscoro L. Umali, plant breeder and former Dean of the UP College of Agriculture, initiated the development of the hybrids in 1948 using M. erythrophylla, a species with single red petaloid and ‚ÄėDo√Īa Aurora‚Äô as parents. Continuous crossing and back-crossing resulted into the present colorful hybrids of mussaendas that differ in the number of petaloids depending on the parents used. The Mussaenda varieties is also called Kahoy Dalaga .

Source :

larger flowers – preferred by plant collectors and landscapers

According to Dr. Coronel, the original Do√Īa Aurora variety is different from the much preferred larger flowers ( due to selection and breeding )¬† by backyard and commercial farm growers. Now, the once rare flowering shrub is found in many parts of the country , tropical and sub-tropical areas in different parts of the world.

Dr. Coronel planted this tree sapling

Hylocereus undatus

Hylocerus undatus is commonly called Night Blooming Cereus, Queen of the Night, Honululu Queen , Cactus orchid . Cactus and Succulents is said to have come from Mexico and arrived from the late 16th century via port of Acapulco in Mexico .

Some cactus species and varieties had been naturalized and used as food  in  some parts of the country . commonly called  pitahaya , dragon fruit,  prutas na dragon , belle of the night , paniniokapunahoa ( Hawaii ) , papipi pua ( Hawaii )  had been widely cultivated in many parts of the country which was introduced from Central America, Taiwan , Thailand and Vietnam .


  Hylocereus undatus has several adaptations that allow it survive in dry years including in short droughts.  ideal  rainfall is about 500-1500 millimeters annually, although too much rain, causing soggy soil conditions lead to rotted fruit and may cause fungal infections . However the plant can survive  waterlogged soil, H. undatus can grow in a wide variety of soil conditions including soil with relatively high salinity as well as nutrient poor soil. H. undatus is a hemi-epiphytic cactus; during a portion of its life the plant requires another plant or object to grow on while at another part of its life will be rooted in the soil.

Holy Cross Memorial Park Horticulture Walk

Holy Cross Memorial Park is one of the private memorial parks located in Barangay San Bartolome , Novaliches , Quezon City,  Metro Manila that is a favorite place for joggers and a perfect place to relax .

rows of anahaw palm

ficus trees lined the street going to the park

The park is home to more than 150 species of trees and flowering plants  plus about two dozen known birds. Every Year there were at least  75,000 to 150,000 people who visit the  their beloved ones who are buried . There is a also a group joggers from different associations.

Spathodea campanulata or African Tulip Tree

This tree species  was probably introduced to the country  from tropical Africa during the American regime. In certain parts of the world, it is known as the Fountain Tree as well as the Flame of the Forest.

This is a popular ornamental tree in the tropics and is much appreciated for its showy reddish-orange or crimson flowers. It can provide ample shade and because of its bright flowers, it’s always a colorful addition to any garden. The wood is difficult to burn, so the tree is also valuable for fire resistant landscaping. It is cultivated in parks, gardens, and along roadsides. It is commonly seen growing around Metro Manila and Tagaytay area and is often considered an evergreen, though it sheds its leaves during summer.

The flower buds form a ball-shaped cluster. Each brown banana-shaped flower bud is filled with water, forming a natural water pistol when squeezed. The outer buds bloom first before the inner ones. The tree blooms year round and a flower lasts about 3 days. The ripe pods split open into a woody, boat-shaped form. Children use them in boat races, by placing the opened pods in a fast flowing drain.

Medicinal Value:

Though there is no reported folkloric use here in the Philippines, Its leaves, root bark, stems, and fruits yield alkaloids, tannin, saponin, steroids, terpenoids, and flavonoid and are used in African medicines. In some African countries, the stem bark is used as a paste for healing wounds as it has anti-microbial properties. In Ghana, the stem bark and leaf are used for treatment of dyspepsia and peptic ulcer; while the leaf, root bark, and fruit is used for arthritis and fractures.

Though there is no reported folkloric use here in the Philippines, its leaves, root bark, stems, and fruits yield alkaloids, tannin, saponin, steroids, terpenoids, and flavonoid and are used in African medicines. In Africa, the stem bark is used as a paste for healing wounds as it has anti-microbial properties. In Ghana, the stem bark and leaf are used for treatment of dyspepsia and peptic ulcer; while the leaf, root bark, and fruit is used for arthritis and fractures. The stem bark is also used for toothaches and stomach aches while the root bark and seeds are used for stomach ulcers.

a traditional Chinese-style family mausoleum

This tree can survive in shaded areas, but it requires full sunlight exposure to be able to grow fast and bloom with an abundance of flowers. It can even grow faster when there is plenty of moisture though it endures droughts by shedding leaves.

Couroupita guianensis or Cannon Ball Tree

Couroupita guianensis, whose common names include Ayahuma or¬† Cannonball Tree, is an¬† tree allied to the Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa), and is native to tropical northern South America and to the southern Caribbean¬†. In India it has been growing for the past two or three thousand years at least, as attested by textual records; hence it is possible that it is native to India also. It’s part of the family Lecythidaceae and grows up to 25m (82ft) in height.


The “Cannonball Tree” is so called because of its brown cannon-ball-like fruits. The majority of these trees outside their natural environment have been planted as a botanical curiosity, as they grow very large, distinctive flowers. Its flowers are orange, scarlet and pink in color, and form large bunches measuring up to 3m in length. They produce large spherical and woody fruits ranging from 15 to 24cm in diameter, containing up to 200 or 300 seeds a piece.


This introduced species was probably brought to the country during the American regime . Its decorative flowers and fruit makes this tree ideal as a focal point in large gardens and estate. However it is not recommended to plant this tree in small garden spaces .

The tree gets its common name from the large, spherical fruits it produces. The fruit falls from the tree and cracks open when it hits the ground when mature, often causing the sound of a small explosion. The fruit emits an unpleasant aroma when exposed to the air. Individual seeds within the “ball” are coated with hair, which is thought to protect the seed when it is ingested and may also help in the passage of the seed through the intestines.

Traveller’s palm

Ravenala madagascariensis, commonly known as¬† Traveller’s Palm, is a species of plant from Madagascar. However , horticulturists do not consider this plant as a true palm(family Arecaceae) but a member of the bird-of-paradise family, Strelitziaceae.this plant is the sole member of its genus. This plant was introduced to the country during the early American regime and is widely distributed as a common landscaping plant material.

Chrysalidocarpus  lutescens called palmera / butterfly palm

  Local folk called this palmera because of its fronts and commonly used as an ornamental plant and backdrop for flower arrangements . This is a common palm found in most pan-tropical countries around the world.

A slender , clustering palm that can grow height to more than 12 meters. The graceful yellow green leaves and can reach up to 2 meters. This palm is native to Madagascar and was introduced in the early 20th century in the country as landscaping material. It is now commonly found in parks , private homes and this palm is also popular as indoor potted plant.

a flowering palm

Cassia fistula, known as the Golden shower tree , is a flowering plant in the family Fabaceae,   native to southern Asia, from southern Pakistan east through India, Mayanmar and south to Sri Lanka.

Golden shower tree or Cassia fistula

It is the national tree of¬† Thailand, and its flower is Thailand’s national flower. It is also state flower of Kerala in India and of immense importance amongst Malayali population.¬† This is a very popular plant throughout its range and has medicinal and folkloric uses.

Hyophorbe lagenicaulis or bottle palm

Bottle palm was introduced to the country some  20 to 30 years ago via Bangkok, Thailand  and Florida nurseries  , Filipino landscapers usually used this palm to landscape the front lawns  of the houses. The compact growth of this palm is ideal for those who do not have large spaces. There are specimen sized palm planted in some exclusive villages in Forbes Park , Corinthian Garden, Valle Verde, Ayala- Alabang  and in Greenhills .

Chua family mausoleum

Bottle Palm has a large swollen (sometimes bizarrely so) trunk. It is a myth that the trunk is a means by which the palm stores water. Bottle Palm has only four to six leaves open at any time. The flowers of the palm arise from under the crown shaft.

Roystonea regia or Royal Palm

Royal palm was introduced to the country during the late Spanish period and was planted in public places such as in Malecon drive ( aka Bonifacio Drive) , Intramuros , Hardin Botanico de Manila now known as Mehan Garden .

Roystonea is a genus of eleven species  of monoecious palm, native to the Caribbean Islands and the adjacent coasts of  Florida , Central and South America. Commonly known as the royal palms, the genus was named for Roy Stone, an engineer in the US Army . It contains some of the most recognizable and commonly cultivated palms in tropical and subtropical regions.

Champaka trees planted in one of the family graves

The flowers are used in Southeast Asia for several purposes. They are primarily used for worship at temples whether at home or out, and more generally worn in hair by girls and women as a means of beauty ornament as well as a natural perfume. Flowers are used to be floated in bowls of water to scent the room, as a fragrant decoration for bridal beds, and for garlands.

rows of anahaw palm

Aside from its wealth of plants and birds, Holy Cross Memorial Park  is the final resting place of controversial massacre victims of Vizconde family and Mr. Renato Victor A. Ebarle Jr. son of  Undersecretary Renato Ebarle Sr.who works for the Office of the Presidential chief of staff during the Arroyo presidency.

final resting place of Mr. Renato Ebarle Jr.

Mr. Renato Ebarle Jr. died in a tragic road rage shooting incident which involve the son of  Mrs. Marilyn Aguilar -Pollard in November 18, 2009 .  There are also unique tombstone and family mausoleum located within the memorial park .

castle inspired mausoleum

Assistant Pastor Lina C. Almeda tomb

Assistant Pastor Lina C. Almeda is the wife of Pastor Wildie E.Almeda of Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry , her tomb is a mecca for the followers of JMIC members.

She was fervent in teaching about loving, obeying, and totally surrendering one’s life to the Lord. She was passionate about living and teaching a life of holiness. She died on January 24, 2004.

Mussaenda philippica variety aurorae

This is a tropical shrub or sub-shrub that will grow to 10ft tall in tropical areas, but more likely will reach 1-3ft tall in containers. Clusters (corymbs) of small, tubular flowers with five spreading lobes bloom in summer, however it is the large and colorful, ovate, leaf-like sepals (to 3‚ÄĚ long) that provide the real ornamental display. Some individual flowers in each cluster will develop a single enlarged sepal. Elliptic to ovate, bright green leaves (to 6‚ÄĚ long). Hybrids typically feature flowers in red and/or yellow with showy sepals of white, bright red or pink.

Origin: named after Donya Aurora Aragon- Quezon , wife of a former President Manuel Luis Quezon of the Philippines .

White Mussaenda also commonly called  Virgin Tree or Donya Aurora can be grown as ornamental in parks and public gardens or along roadsides, byways and highways. Use in landscaping, this plant serves well as a decorative specimen with its showy blooms and would fit beautifully in home gardens too! Attractive to butterflies, bees,  and insect pollinators as a nectar plant.

tombstone with Tagalog inscription

family mausoleum with interesting cathedral -like dome

                                                            a circular family mausoleum ( some architectural details  have some  similarities of planetarium in Luneta )

The golden form of Golden Vietcha or Adonidia merrillii  golden is widely used as landscaping plant

This is a mutant variety of the, Bunga China , Bunga de Jolo, Manila Palm or Christmas Palm.The palm can reach up to  a height of 15-20 feet. The gently arching fronds are bright green and grow lushly from the top of the crown shaft. They grow to a length of 5 feet with leaflets up to 2 feet long by 2 inches wide.

Two foot long, branched flower stalks emerge from the area where the crownshaft meets the gray trunk. Pale green flower buds open into spidery cream-colored blossoms.

Tale of Discovery:

One mutant palm that has made a lot of growers much richer is the so-called Golden Veitchia. This is a golden mutation of the ordinary Bunga China or Veitchia merrillii. This was first discovered in the garden of Mr. Cesar Pecson in Singalong, Manila, in the mid-1980s. It came from the fruits of a Bunga China planted beside the gate of Pecson’s home.

According to Mr. Zacarias  Sarian , While having snack  in Pecson’s garden,  Mr. Sarian  saw some of the seedlings that sprouted from the fallen fruits on the ground had golden leaves. He suggested to Pecson that he pot those golden seedlings and then sell them at the Baclaran plant market where he had a stall. That’s exactly what he did and was glad to sell them at only P25 per seedling. When he observed that people were buying his seedlings, Pecson raised his price. He raised all the more when the plant traders from Bangkok learned about the Golden Veitchia and bought everything that was available.

Somehow traders from Bangkok and Malaysia were able to buy some seedlings of the mutant variety which they re-package the name Golden Butia or Golden Vietcha !

Many of the local growers made money by selling some of their full grown plants to landscapers at a high price. Some of the plants they retained bore fruit and they also produced Golden Veitchia seedlings which they were able to sell at a good price.

In Thailand, the Nong Nooch Garden Resort is now growing Golden Veitchia by the hectares and is selling them at a high price. The price of the mutant variety sky rocketed and even reach a several thousand of pesos !This has made not a few growers not just a little richer.

Since the Thai’s were very good in cultivating the mutant strain , they were able to successfully marketed in mass quantities¬† in just matter of years .

Now, the price of the mutant variety is more affordable but still more expensive then the ordinary form.

                                       Bread Fruit/ Kamansi/ Rimas (Tagalog ) Kolo

Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is a species of  the mulberry family, Moraceae  growing throughout Southeast Asia and most Pacific Ocean islands. Its name is derived from the texture of the cooked fruit, which has a potato-like flavor, similar to fresh-baked bread.

The ancestors of the Polynesians found the trees growing in the northwest New Guinea area around 3500 years ago. They gave up the rice cultivation they had brought with them from ancient Taiwan, and raised breadfruit wherever they went in the Pacific (except Easter Island and New Zealand, which were too cold). Their ancient eastern Indonesian cousins spread the plant west and north through insular and coastal Southeast Asia. It has, in historic times, also been widely planted in tropical regions elsewhere.

                                                                                         Banaba tree in bloom

Lagerstroemia speciosa  is a  decidious tropical flowering tree, 5 to 10 m high, sometimes growing to a height of 20 meters. Leaves, large, spatulate, oblong to elliptic-ovate, 2-4 inches in width, 5-8 inches in length; shedding its leaves the first months of the year. Before shedding, the leaves are bright orange or red during which time it is thought to contain higher levels of corosolic acid). Flowers are racemes, pink to lavender; flowering from March to June. After flowering, the tree bears large clumps of oval nut like fruits.

Author’s note: Most of the trees and plants that the author featured in the horticulture walk blooms on a seasonal basis. It is wise to plan¬† the tour in order to see what is flowering for a particular month.


Hypoglycemic effect of extracts from Lagerstroemia speciosa L. leaves in genetically diabetic KK-AY mice
Kakuda T, Sakane I, Takihara T, Ozaki Y, Takeuchi H, Kuroyanagi M. / Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 1996 Feb;60(2):204-8.

Balick, M. & Cox, P. (1996). Plants, People and Culture: The Science of Ethnobotany. New York: Scientific American Library HPHLP, p.85

McLendon, Chuck (May 16, 2000). “Ravenala madagascariensis”. Retrieved September 14, 2009

Spathodea Campanulata: an Experimental Evaluation of the Analgesic and Anti-inflammatory Properties of a Traditional Remedy / Emmanuel E Ilodigwe and Peter A Akah / Asian Journal of Medical Sciences 1(2): 35-38, 2009

U. S. Department of Agriculture, William Saunders; Catalogue of Economic Plants in the Collection of the U. S. Department of Agriculture; Washington D. C.; June 5,

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