Brazilian Rain Tree
This hardwood tree is native to Brazil, living along the coast between the coastal rainforests and the restingas. (Zone 11)
Brazilian Raintrees produce small white powder-puff blossoms which turn yellowish within a few days. These are followed by curly seed pods.
The leaves close at night or in subdued light and the tree looks dead, the next morning the leaves are open and the tree is alive.
Flattened "muscular" trunks and exfoliating bark, revealing the white inner bark, add an extra special interest to the tree.
This tree needs well drained soils with some organic matter, too much organic in the soil mix can create wet conditions which causes root rot, fungus and branch die-back. The sandy growing environment in Brazil demonstrates how well P. tortum tolerates dry conditions. If the soil does become too dry, the leaves will dry up and fall off; but in 2 weeks it buds out again. And by the 4th week the tree will be covered with new leaves and shoots!
“Clip and grow” is the best method to develop the raintree. Wire is rarely used on the delicate green branches. If you choose to wire, do so loosely or tie the branches down. Raintree branches tend to ‘die-back’ when pruned, so they should be flat cut, not concave cut.
Repot when the roots become pot bound. Repotting should be done in early to mid summer as soon as the low temperatures stay above 50° F and highs are above 90° F.
Fertilizing is also necessary. The Brazilian Raintree is a heavy feeder, fertilize during the growing season to keep your bonsai healthy. The Brazilian raintree is a member of the legume family.
This tree can be grown from cuttings and large branches can be air-layered- Kanjohakuhi -to form good small trees quickly!
To grow new raintrees from seed, allow the pods to dry on the mother plant; then break the pods open to collect seeds. Sow the fresh seed as soon as possible because the Seeds do not store well. Seeds are small and pale yellow.
If growing this tree indoors, one may need to provide additional lighting.
Jim Moody introduced the Brazilian Raintree to the US bonsai community.
The air-layer in September 2011