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Brya Ebenus: The Flowering Tree

Brya Ebenus

The Brya Ebenus (also known as Jamaican Rain Tree or Jamaican Ebony) is a type of flowering tree and belongs to the Fabaceae family; originally from the islands of Cuba and Jamaica.

This a small tree resistant to drought that can grow around 5 to 8 m in height and produces long fallen branches. It has small waxy, 2-3 compound leaves, which often seem to be simple. The leaves are alternate. And, the bright yellow flowers develop into a short racemose inflorescence. They are usually (for the subfamily Faboideae) of small size and hermaphrodites, with bilateral symmetry and (not so typically) heterostilia. While,  fruits are legumes that are common for the Fabaceae family. They seem to disperse with help of the wind.

Brya ebenus grows in bushes that need full sun. Consequently flowers occur sporadically throughout the year; as it grows in a tropical biome. Although, its common name suggests, the rain tree of Jamaica goes and into bloom almost immediately after a rainy event.

This can be an adaptation to produce seeds quickly when unpredictable rains occur. The flowers attract visitors from insects like bees. As in many species of Faboideae, B. ebenus has nodules of bacteria in its roots, which fix atmospheric nitrogen in a usable form, allowing it to grow in poor soils.

Cultivation and Uses

It falls under the consideration being a highly ornamental plant, also popular in bonsai art; and for its valuable wood, which is a very dense with an excellent quality of musical sound that was used for the manufacture of flutes in England and France, especially during the 19th century. Still, from time to time, it is used for musical instruments of wood covered with cane like bagpipes, clarinets and oboes.

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