Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The rustic "Ru" trees

Being the tallest trees at the Tanjung Batu Beach area, the Casuarina trees look majestic, strong and rustic.

I have always admire the Casuarina trees ( Casuarina equisetifolia ) that line the beaches of Bintulu. They grow wild and fast. Having a long life span, they prefer the full sun and well-drained sandy soil especially along Bintulu's coasts. In the picture at left ( inset) the casuarina trees were not planted. They just grew naturally through the dispersal of seeds on a tiny space of the seawall. The casuarina trees are known here as 'Ru" and are said to originate from Southeast Asia through the Pacific Islands. They tolerate high winds and therefore are natural windbreaks. In landscaping they are also used as screen, background and hedge planting ( if pruned). Its timber is good for firewood.
Sometime in 1990, I went to the Universiti Pertanian Malaysia campus at Serdang. There I saw a row of shady ru trees due to heavy pruning ( see colour photo above). In many public gardens or parks in Sarawak the ru trees are sometimes shaped into square-like boxes or conical shapes. They are thus rendered into artificial ornamental forms all in the name of topiary.

A winding footpath with informal planting of ru trees on both sides at Pantai Temasya, Bintulu today.

Left alone the ru trees can reach a height of about 40 meters. On a recent visit to Pantai Temasya or Temasya Beach near Tanjung Batu , I was impressed by the tall presence of the ru trees along the newly expanded footpath. They cast a little shade and looking above I could see many birds chirping away. In Bintulu it is common knowledge that these ru trees are natural habitat for the cicadas.

My fascination of the ru trees was caught in a watercolour painting I did in the 1970's. The painting above showed natural grouping of ru trees at the present Pantai Temasya beach area. Bintulu beaches are beautiful for its ru trees and are in harmony with the sandy coastline and strong winds. It is for this reason that in Bintulu the casuarina tree is called in Malay 'Ru Laut' ( English = Sea ru) to differentiate it from another species viz Casuarina sumatrana which is locally called 'Ru Bukit' (English = Hill ru) . I wrote about a bird and a casuarina tree in a poem entitled 'Windswept lawn' where I imagined myself a bird looking down from an old casuarina tree. The poem reads :
Like a bird one day
I was out in the open air
been there by the casuarina branch
that I perched to watch and sing
at the garden steps below
It was a tiny lawn
recently mowed
the cuttings were dry
shrivelled and brown
The patio was quiet
a little breeze blew
moved the scattered leaves
the silent chimes too

The mood was rustic
this warm return hollow
where I while away
my moment in time
and take flight when the day is done
Said I :
Here's indeed a place to rest
to seek a peaceful mind
that will remember and recall
this windswept lawn
the patio and the trees
I wished to be my own
MOOD, 29 June'08.

1 comment:

  1. hi mood, it's interesting how the place has changed through the years, from the look at the old to the new. ^0^
    and i can see your love for nature as always. ^0^
    gr8 post! and beautiful watercolor btw.