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The strange and exotic blossom of the Cannonball tree | by jungle mama
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The strange and exotic blossom of the Cannonball tree

This is a strange one! The tree is very large and tall but the flowers all hang from stems ten feet or so from the ground so it feels like they are growing on a vine attached to the tree rather than the tree itself! These are called cauliflorous flowers... flowers that grow from the trunk.

 

Exotic! Coral like. Brilliant in color and form.

 

"In the rainforests of South American, fruits of the Cannonball tree sway and clash in the wind, creating loud noises like artillery fire! These fruits really do resemble big, rusty cannonballs as they hang in clusters on the side of the tree attached to rope like tangles that emerge directly from the trunk.

 

The Cannonball tree’s beautifully complex and fragrant flowers resemble huge orchids. At the night the flowers become particularly pungent order to attract swift-flying pollinators. This particular Cannonball tree was collected in 1913 at Jamaica’s Hope Gardens and has flourished at Fairchild since it was planted here in 1938."

 

Couroupita guianensis, whose common names include Ayahuma and the Cannonball Tree, is an evergreen tree allied to the Brazil Nut (Bertholletia excelsa), and is native to tropical northern South America and to the southern Caribbean. In India it has been growing for the past two or three thousand years at least, as attested by textual records; hence it is possible that it is native to India also. It's part of the family Lecythidaceae and grows up to 25m (82ft) in height. The "Cannonball Tree" is so called because of its brown cannon-ball-like fruits. The majority of these trees outside their natural environment have been planted as a botanical curiosity, as they grow very large, distinctive flowers. Its flowers are orange, scarlet and pink in color, and form large bunches measuring up to 3m in length. They produce large spherical and woody fruits ranging from 15 to 24cm in diameter, containing up to 200 or 300 seeds apiece.

 

Couroupita guianensis

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, FL.

www.susanfordcollins.com

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Taken on November 7, 2010