rain tree, also called monkeypod, a large leguminous tropical tree ( Albizia saman or Samanea saman ) of tropical America belonging to the family Leguminosae (pulse family), the leaves of which fold together in cloudy weather and in darkness. Rain trees may attain heights of 80 ft (24 m) with a branch spread of up to 100 ft (30 m). These flat-topped trees are widely cultivated throughout the tropics as shade trees for such crops as coffee and cacao. Their edible pods are used chiefly for stock feed. The durable wood has a deep, rich color and is used for furniture. Other species of the genus are grown in warm climates for timber or food and sometimes as a source of gums and tannin. Rain trees are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Leguminosae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.