A DP Weekly Photo Challenge – Abandoned
Tangan Tangan overtaking the abandoned (taken on Guam, by flora-file)
The Marianas Islands saw a lot of action during WW II. Guam and many other islands in the Pacific were also attacked and conquered on the same day Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. For the U.S., winning back Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands (especially Tinian and Saipan) was of the utmost importance during the fighting in the Pacific theatre, and the liberation of these islands eventually led to the notorious voyage of the Enola Gay.
The extensive bombing and fighting that happened on the islands left much of the natural forested areas bare, especially since Allied forces had defoliated many jungle areas in an attempt to flush out Japanese soldiers hiding in the thickets. After the war the US Military began air strikes of a different kind, but instead of dropping bombs they were dropping seeds. Tangan-tangan (Leucaena leucocephala) seeds to be exact. These trees grew quickly and flourished in disturbed soils. They are in the the pea family and have the ability to build up soil fertility through the nitrogen fixing nodes on their roots (like many members of Fabaceae). Now vast tracts of the islands are covered by tangan-tangan tees, often times forming nearly impenetrable thickets. It is surprising where they sometimes decide to grow.
In the 1970’s and 80’s the tree became known as the miracle-tree because of its worldwide success as a long lived and highly nutritious forage tree, as well as it’s many other uses. Besides forage, Leucaena can be used for firewood, timber, human food, green manure, shade, and erosion control.