Saturday, 16 January 2016

Cannonballs for everyone

I was strolling in the Botanic Gardens and stopped to admire the cannonball tree. It is in bloom and looking fabulous. I have seen these trees before in Penang, but had not really noticed this little beauty so close to my home.

The correct name of this tree is couroupita guianensis and it originally comes from tropical areas of South America. It was recorded and named in 1755 by the French botanist Aublet.

These are big trees; some grow to 30 metres tall. I don't think this particular tree was anywhere near that size.

Although this example has quite a lot of flowers, apparently some trees can have as many as a thousand flowers at a time and those stems can be many metres long. The flowers have no nectar but they do have lots of pollen. The flowers have two sets of stamens and make two different types of pollen. Bees, bats, flies, and wasps pollinate the flowers.

The fruit takes a long time to mature, about a year. In some places the fruit is fed to farm animals. It is edible by humans but not popular because it stinks. The pulp is used medicinally in the Amazon, although from what I have read it seems to be effective due to the placebo effect rather than good medicine. How could the one substance cure both toothache in people and mange in dogs?

The leaves were too high up for me to see. There was leaf litter on the ground but I could not tell which were leaves from this tree. Apparently the flowers have a lovely perfume that is noticeable in the cool early morning. I saw this tree around lunch time, so there was no smell then.

1 comment:

  1. What a fascinating tree, very aptly named I might add.


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