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Couroupita guianensis

Couroupita guianensis
Couroupita guianensis

Another set of photographs and write-up from UBC Botanical Garden's Eric La Fountaine today, featuring a species previously on BPotD (but in flower): Couroupita guainensis. Eric writes:

The cannonball tree has one of the most appropriate common names of any plant I know. Not often seen outside its native range, northern South America and southern Central America, it is grown as a sacred plant in Hindu temples in India and as an oddity in tropical botanical gardens.

The large, sweetly fragrant flowers (and later the fruit) are borne directly from the trunk and main branches (cauliflory) in large clusters on woody stalks that can be a few metres long. The heavy fruits drop from the tree with great force and may crack open upon landing, revealing a foul smelling pulp with many seeds. Wild peccaries and other animals eat the pulp and disperse the seeds in their waste.

For further reading and a description of the pollination and the unusual flower structure unique to Couroupita guianensis and other members of the Brazil nut family, the Encyclopedia of Earth has an excellent article: Couroupita guianensis.

22 Comments

What size are these aptly-named "cannonballs"?

Amazing!!!! The fruit for its sheer weirdness and the flower for its stunning beauty.
Thanks for all your time and effort over the last year!

Fascinating - and the moment I opened the page, the song "I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts" flashed through my mind.

It never ceases to amaze me how fruit can be so almost perfectly round.

Great photos

It has beautiful flowers too :

Link1,

Link2.

Thanks

I almost wish I was a peccary - those look like they would be quite tasty!!!!!!!! Thanks for the wonderful surprise!!!!!

Can the fruit of this Cannonball tree been eaten by humans.
Will this tree grown in South Africa where we have no snow and sunny weather for 9 months of the year.
We only have 3 months of winter but no snow.
Ill think the flower is beautiful.

I saw this growing in a butterfly house in Zurich Zoo (I think) a few years ago and knew instantly what it was when the picture opened, it is not something that you forget easily! To answer the question above the fruits on the plant that I saw were around 20 - 25cm in diameter.

I see that in Florida it blooms in July/August but no mention of when the fruits develop. Eric, I can't remember - were you just on Kauai last month? I'd like to know if I could expect to see the fruits when I'm there next. That is so strange-looking, it's worth a trip to the other end of the island. There's a photo on the Fairchild site with just a few flowers coming out of the otherwise bare trunk.

The tree at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami, FL, is self-incompatible. It requires cross -pollination from another tree (in past years, the tree at Montgomery Botanical Center was the daddy). The flowers are borne on long, woody, perennial branches that originate from the lower part of the trunk and hang down. The cold weather Miami is getting this week will cause the tree to completely defoliate within a couple of days, but new, replacement leaves will grow out within a couple of weeks.

Sometimes on the UBC botanical site the window pens to a new universe. Like an never seen before star I am surprised and educated in an all new part of creation,
The links really added to understanding this Cannonball tree.
Thanks so much for this glimpse into the plant universe.

i too live in florida another morning of ice

the tender palms in nurserys and the vegatable
crop have been hit ever so hard 10 days
and one more night hopefully

i thought of the term odd ball when the page
came in to view-i have enjoyed reading about
people who worship this tree childless couples
who hang dolls from the tree and seeing sutra
with in the fruit
thank you all good reading this am

When I saw a specimen in a botanical garden on Oahu they also called it a cannonball tree and the fruit is just that size, a bit smaller than a bowling ball. I seem to remember that it said somewhere that it was related to the brazil nut. Does anyone know if that is true?

Yes, it's in the Brazil nut family, Lecythidaceae.

Traveled to Hawaii this past fall and saw the cannonball tree on Kauai. I was first drawn to the flowers. They are unique and beautiful. Enjoy the photos.

Wow, this plant really jumps off the page. I've never seen one before - or at least not with these cannonballs on them.

Definitely check out the links posted by Karthik (Thank you Karthik!) They show close-ups of the beautiful but very unusual flowers. I've never seen anything quite like them. What a wonderfully odd tree.

They do look tasty!

Do you suppose the Swiss Family Robinson could have used them? Just joking, but they do remind me of the stories of islanders fending off pirates from remote islands. . . .

Nice to see something tropical when we are a couple feet deep in fluffy white stuff.

Wonderful! The flowers are both stunningly beautiful and strange, a combination I happen to really like :-)
ALL of the links are very interesting -- thanks.

I am looking at this picture with a new slant after just having read "The Ghosts of Evolution", Connie Barlow, 1977 that talks about how some plants evolved along with large animals that are now extinct. Perhaps this fruit was the favorite fruit of a long missing partner. Great read! Couldn't believe that I had never heard of it before.

Eric did actually include a couple photographs of the flowers in what he sent along to me, but I decided to focus on the fruits instead (since the flower made a previous appearance).

Here are Eric's photos of the flowers:


The given information and the photography is very useful for my dissertation work. i need book references for this plant.

I have a nicely flowering trunk of this which i took from the Royal Palace of Phnom Penh. I mislabeled it in my photo as Shorea robusta because that was the label on that tree. After some readings, i also realized the correct Scientific name is Couroupita guianensis.(http://www.flickr.com/photos/abagillon/2612714222/). thank you.

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