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Falcataria moluccana - (Miq.) Barneby & J.W.Grimes

Common Name Batai
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Dust from machining may be irritating[ 316 ].
Habitats A pioneer species, occurring in primary but more usually in secondary lowland rainforest and light montane forest, grassy plains and along roadsides near the sea[ 303 ].
Range Pacific area - Indonesia, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Falcataria moluccana Batai

Falcataria moluccana Batai
Forest & Kim Starr - wikimedia.org


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Also known as Moluccan albizia, Batai or Falcataria moluccana is commonly cultivated in South and Southeast Asia. It grows usually about 40 m tall with a massive trunk and an open crown. The leaves are twice pinnately compound with small leaflets. The flowers are small, creamy white in color, and are faintly fragrant. The fruits are pods. Extract of the dried bark is used to bathe tropical ulcers while extract of the entire plant is drunk to induce sleep and treat venereal diseases. Batak is used, particularly in the Philippines, as cover crop to prevent soil erosion on slopes and catchment areas sheltered from typhoon. It is also planted as a shade and nurse crop for plantation crops. It is fast growing but sensitive to strong winds. The wood is soft, not durable, and is vulnerable to attack to by termites and powder-post beetle. It is commonly used for light construction, cabinet making, lightweight packing materials and pallets, and chopsticks. It is also suitable for pulping and paper making.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Falcataria moluccana is a TREE growing to 35 m (114ft) by 30 m (98ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant is not wind tolerant.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Adenanthera falcata L. Adenanthera falcataria L. Albizia falcata (L.) Backer Albizia falcataria (L.)

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Charcoal  Containers  Fuel  Furniture  Paper  Soil conditioner  Soil reclamation  Soil stabilization  Tannin  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: Pure stands give a good protective cover to prevent erosion on slopes and are recommended in the Philippines for this purpose on catchment areas sheltered from typhoons[ 303 ]. The tree is extensively planted in Southeast Asia as a shade and nurse crop for coffee, cocoa, tea, other crops and young timber plantations. Its fast growth and good shading properties outweigh the disadvantages of its sensitivity to strong winds and its relatively short life[ 303 ]. Plantations have been established even on tailings left after tin mining[ 303 ]. It is planted extensively for reforestation and reforestation of denuded and eroding land[ 303 ]. The natural drop of leaves and small branches contributes nitrogen, organic matter and minerals to upper layers of soil[ 303 ]. The plant's extensive root system further improves soil conditions by breaking up soils to provide channels for drainage and aeration[ 303 ]. Other Uses: The bark has tanning properties[ 303 ]. The heartwood is a light brown with a slight pinkish or yellowish tinge; it is not clearly demarcated from the sapwood. The texture is rather coarse; the grain usually deeply interlocked; sometimes lustrous; dried material is free of any distinctive odour or taste. The wood is soft, not durable and is vulnerable to attack by termites and powder-post beetles; it stains rather rapidly. It dries rapidly with little or no degrade; once dry it is fairly stable in service. The wood is reported to dull cutters rather quickly; fuzzy grain is rather common because of tension wood; it saws well, but growth stresses often cause pinching of the blade; sharp tools are required to cut the soft wood cleanly. The comparatively soft timber is suitable for general utility purposes, such as light construction, furniture, cabinet work, lightweight packing materials and pallets, and chopsticks. Because the wood is fairly easy to cut, it is also suitable for wooden shoes, musical instruments, toys and novelties, forms and general turnery. It is an important source of veneer and plywood and is very suitable for the manufacture of particleboard, wood-wool board and hardboard and has recently been used for block board. The trees coppice fairly well, an advantage for pulpwood production. The wood is suitable for pulping and papermaking. It can be used to produce good-quality pulp by mechanical, semi-chemical or chemical processes. Because of its light colour, only a little bleaching is required to achieve good white paper. The neutral, semi-chemical process produces pulp with excellent strength properties. It has also been used for the manufacture of viscose rayon[ 303 , 316 ]. Widely used for fuel wood and charcoal production in spite of its low density and energy value[ 325 ].

Special Uses

Coppice  Food Forest  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Batai is a tree of low to medium elevations of the wetter tropics, succeeding from sea level to elevations of 1,200 metres[ 303 ]. It succeeds in areas where the mean annual temperature is in the range 22 - 29°c and the mean annual rainfall is 2,000 - 4,000mm, averaging 2,800mm[ 303 ]. It is adapted to peri-humid and monsoonal climates with a dry season of up to 4 months[ 303 ]. Requires a sunny position[ 303 ]. Trees can succeed on comparatively poor sites and survive without fertilizer[ 303 ]. However, they do not thrive in poorly drained, flooded or waterlogged soils[ 303 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 8, tolerating 4.5 - 8.5[ 418 ]. Plants require a position sheltered from strong winds[ 303 ]. Batai grows so fast that it is sometimes called the 'miracle tree'. It is even mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's fastest growing tree[ 303 ]. On good sites it can attain a height of 7 metres in just over a year. Trees reach a mean height of 25.5 metres and a bole diameter of 17cm after 6 years, 32.5 metres high and 40.5cm diameter after 9 years, 38 metres high and 54cm diameter after 12 years, and 39 metres high and 63.5cm diameter after 15 years[ 303 ]. Trees may flower when as young as 3 years[ 303 ]. Two flowering periods per year have been observed in some areas[ 303 ]. Ripe pods appear approximately 2 months after flowering. The pods dehisce when ripe, often when still attached to the tree, scattering the seeds on the ground[ 303 ]. Trees are sensitive to fire[ 303 ]. The tree responds to coppicing, although coppicing vigour is highly variable[ 303 ]. Batai is commonly used in agroforestry systems, usually in a cutting cycle of 10 - 15 years, in combination with annual crops in the 1st year and grazing animals in subsequent years[ 303 ]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[ 200 ]. Growth of young trees in a phosphorous-deficient soil is promoted by inoculation with mycorrhizal fungi Gigaspora margarita and Glomus fasciculatum in combination with Rhizobium.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - untreated seeds germinate irregularly; germination may start after 5 - 10 days but is sometimes delayed for up to 4 weeks[ 303 ]. To hasten and ensure uniform germination, add a small quantity of almost boiling water to the seed. The quantity of water should not be too great to ensure that it cools down without cooking the seed. Then soak the seed in warm water for 12 - 24 hours prior to sowing. Germination rates can be as high as 80% to almost 100%[ 303 ]. The seed is usually sown by broadcasting on a seedbed, pressing it gently into the soil and then covering it with a layer of fine sand up to 15mm thick. The soil in the seedbed must be loose and well drained; application of a surface layer of mulch is advisable, and excessive shading should be avoided[ 303 ]. Seedlings can be transplanted when they have reached a height of 20 - 25cm with a woody stem and a good fibrous root system; this stage can be reached in 8 - 11 weeks. Container plants are often transplanted into the field when 4 - 5 months old[ 303 ]. Small seeds are difficult to collect from the ground and are usually collected by cutting down branches bearing ripe, brown pods. Seed storage behaviour is orthodox. There is no loss in viability during 1.5 years in air-dry storage at 4-8 deg. C. For storage, seeds are air dried for 24 hours and then packed in polythene bags. When stored at 4-8 deg. C, the germination rate after 18 months may still be 70-90%[ 303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here


Native Range

TROPICAL ASIA: Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(Miq.) Barneby & J.W.Grimes

Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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