A short row of flowering Yellow Flame trees along Tun Ahmad Zaidi Road near Kampung Assyakirrin, Bintulu.
Driving leisurely along the Tun Ahmad Zaidi Road today, my gaze was directed to a short row of flowering trees near the Kampung Assyakirrin area. The Yellow Flame flowers were all over the rounded canopy and appeared to crown the tree with its golden glory. Such is the beauty of the Yellow Flame ( Peltophorum pterocarpum) and this flowering season can last for a few weeks. The Yellow Flame is a local tree by which I mean its origins can be found in Malaysia and nearby South East Asian countries. Sarawak is too rich in hard tropical timber that even though the trunk of the tree can be used as planks, it is seldom harvested for its timber. In Indonesia especially on the island of Java the batik makers there used the bark of the tree as dye in colouring their batik pieces. The Yellow Flame belongs to the Leguminosae family ( Bean family) and in Sarawak the Yellow Flame is planted more for its ornamental value. It is planted in Bintulu as medium sized tree for medium-sized town roads. It can however grow to a height of 18 meters when matured. The flowers are golden yellow in hue ( see top picture) and are borne on erect terminal pyramid-like panicles. After a heavy flowering season the tree will produce pods that are flat and purplish brown in colour. Most nursery owners propagate them by way of seeds and it is generally known that germination takes about two or more months. However many nursery owners soak the seeds in hot water for about two (2) minutes to speed up the germination process. Another interesting habit of the Yellow Flame is the leaf exchange process that it undergoes after each flowering season. Immediately after leaf shedding , new leaf production will follow and the cycle later complete itself with the next flowering magic.Even though Bintulu had planted the Yellow Flame as popular roadside trees beginning the mid 1980's starting at Nyabau Road ( short cut to Bintulu Port from Bintulu- Miri Highway at Mile 5 Traffic Junction) and the Dewan Suarah internal roads, not all of them flower in concert this January. Probably this is one characteristic typical of the Yellow Flame. They don't burst in golden flowers simultaneously all over the town roads. Despite this weakness they are still my favourite due to its bright yellow colour, moderate size and robust stature once they are heavily pruned. The last point reminds me of one specific "Grand Old Yellow Flame tree of Bintulu " that is still standing proudly at the center of Bintulu town if one cares to notice. The Yellow Flame thus speaks volume of Bintulu town landscaping attempts since the 1950's.