Monkeypod, 'ōhai


Samanea saman

Monkeypod woodMonkey pod, rain tree, 'ōhai. Stunning shade tree from tropical America, with large, dome-shaped canopy. The attractive wood is crafted into platters and bowls that are commonly marketed in Hawaii. The pods have a sweet, sticky brown pulp, and are fed to cattle in Central America. Sapwood thin and yellowish and heartwood dark chocolate brown when freshly cut, becoming attractive light to golden brown with darker streaks. The wood is moderately hard, lightweight (sp. gr. 0.52), of coarse texture, and fairly strong. It is resistant to very resistant to decay and resistant to dry-wood termites. It takes a beautiful finish but is often cross-grained and difficult to work. The wood shrinks very little in drying and consequently can be carved into bowls while green and dried later without serious degrade. Machining characteristics made on wood of low density in Puerto Rico were as follows: planing, mortising, sanding, and resistance to screw splitting were good; shaping and boring were fair; and turning was poor. When green, Hawaii-grown monkeypod turns very well. It is the wood around which the carved bowl trade of Hawaii was built beginning in 1946. The wood has been employed occasionally for furniture, interior trim, and flooring. It is a popular wood for large frame members in wooden boats. It is suitable also for boxes and crates, veneer, plywood, and paneling. In Central America, cross sections of thick trunks have served as wheels of ox carts.

Souvenirs made from the golden brown wood with darker streaks have been purchased in quantities by tour­ists in Hawaii. Beautifully polished bowls and plates of various sizes and shapes are in demand. However, at present, most of these bowls are made in the Philippines, Thailand, or Malaysia, where monkeypod is also plenti­ful. Seeds are used in leis


Monkeypod tree at the UH Manoa campus

  Monkeypod leaf and flower

Monkey pod tree



Monkeypod leaf and flower