Spring is just right around the corner; but for us Filipinos, it’s still a plane ride away. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always fantasised about this flamboyant season — which is why it’s become my favourite time to travel internationally! But with all the hassles of travelling abroad nowadays, we’ve got to keep our local options open. It’s a good thing that our country is blessed with stunning natural wonders — including Insta-worthy Philippine native trees! So, keep your eyes peeled for these lush babies. Ready your cameras and strike a pose!
1. Banabá tree
Widely known for its herbal benefits, the Banabá tree has long been used as folk medicine. Many people claim that drinking Banabá leaves encourages weight loss and prevents diabetes, high blood, and other diseases. In fact, the Department of Health (DOH) promotes the Banabá herb for its benefits!
This flowering tree does not just boast of its therapeutic benefits. Before you take a sip of Banabá tea leaves, step back to appreciate its eye-catching lavender flowers. This tree definitely makes a good backdrop for photos as well!
Season: May to June
Where to find it: Widely grows around the Philippines; flourishes along riverbanks, swamps, and moist forests; UP Diliman; Palawan; Mindanao
2. Siar tree
Largely used as an ornamental tree, especially in tropical destinations, the Siar tree blossoms with intricate-looking yellow flowers. Back in the time of the War of Independence, late president Emilio Aguinaldo planted a Siar tree in front of the Malolos Cathedral.
Today, that historical Siar tree is known as the Kalayaan Tree — a striking beacon of Philippine revolution. More of its kind were planted after that event; now you can even find Siar trees in the UP Washington-SyCip Garden, Intramuros, and Greenbelt.
Season: February to March
Where to find it: UP Diliman Washington-SyCip Garden; Malolos, Bulacan; Intramuros; Greenbelt; Subic; Olongapo
3. Malabulak Tree
Every February, Malabulak trees unfailingly wow passers-by with its cup-shaped scarlet flowers. As the cold months kick in, the leaves of the Malabulak tree shed, making way for its fiery blossoms to create an illusion of a fully red tree. Malabulak trees are rarer than fire trees, although they pose a similar look. You’ll find them around Metro Manila, but most flourish in Bulacan.
Where to find it: Widely grows around the coastal areas of the Philippines; Quezon City; Bulacan; Bohol; Nueva Ecija; Bataan; Rizal; Laguna; Camiguin
4. Salingbobong tree
Admit it: You’re just as fascinated by cherry blossoms as the rest of us. Guess what? Philippine native trees can undeniably compete with those! Flashing white, yellow, and pink, the dainty Salingbobog tree is not only a lovely sight to behold — it also bears fruit rich in vitamin C. Traditionally, its leaves are also used to treat irregular menstruation.
Where to find it: Flourishes along streams and near the sea; Northern Luzon; Masbate; Palawan; Mindanao; Sulu; UP Diliman
5. Narra tree
Without a doubt, one of the Philippine native trees you recognise is the Narra tree. In elementary, all of us were taught that the Narra tree is large and strong. But have you ever taken a step back to admire the beauty of our Philippine national tree? The Narra tree has its seasons. During the cold season, it sheds its leaves; in the summer, its yellow flowers blossom.
Season: February to May
Where to find it: Widely grows around the Philippines
6. Balayong tree
While the Balayong tree has gained the monicker “Palawan cherry blossoms,” this species actually belongs to the list of Philippine native trees. Homegrown in Palawan, the Balayong tree has become so widely-visited because of its resemblance to the sakura trees.
Now, a “cherry blossom” park stands in Puerto Princesa, inviting tourists and residents alike to admire the picturesque pink flowers. Every 4 March, Palawan celebrates the bloom of the Balayong tree with the Balayong Festival.
Where to find it: Palawan
7. Bagras tree
Philippine native trees don’t only boast of beautiful flowers. Case in point: The Bagras tree displays hues of greens, orange, and blues in its trunk. Hailing from the Southern region, the Bagras tree was initially known as the Mindanao gum. Now, it’s also called the Rainbow Eucalyptus. This tree flourishes in moist areas, particularly rainforests, and grows up to 246 feet tall.
Like other Philippine native trees, the Bagras tree balances fashion and function. It is used both as material for paper products and as folk medicine for asthma and coughs.
Season: All year round
Where to find it: Mindanao
Although we only have two seasons in the Philippines, our rich biodiversity certainly makes our country exciting! Let’s start showing our love to our Philippine native trees — new Instagram challenge, anyone? Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram and use our hashtags #TripZillaPH and #MakeTravelHappen!