Did you know the cannonball tree was given the botanical name Couroupita guianensis in 1775 by the French explorer and botanist Jean Baptiste Christophore Fusée Aublet? The cannonball belongs to the family Lecythidaceae same as the Brazil-nut family. The common name in English is Cannonball tree.
In Suriname it is called boskalebas, Columbia and Panama – coco sachapura, Costa Rico – bala de canon, French Guiana – kouroupitoumou and in French it is called arbre à boulet de canon.
The fruits of the cannonball tree are not only large, round and heavy but when falling to the ground, they often do so with loud and explosive noises.
The fruit appears to be developing straight from the trunk of the tree as opposed to normal fruit trees like oranges or mangoes; also the fruit has a truly unpleasant stench, unlike the flowers.
The flowers develop into enormous bunches from nine to twelve feet long, and are very brightly colored with strong, sweet scented blooms. The flowers lack nectar, but are very attractive to bees coming for the pollen.
Did you know in some parts of the world this tree is planted as an ornamental for its showy, scented flowers, and as a botanical specimen for its interesting fruit? The fruit is fed to livestock such as pigs and domestic fowl.
The fruit is edible, but not usually eaten by people because it can have an unpleasant smell.
In India the tree is sacred to Hindus, who believe its hooded flowers look like the nāga, and it is grown at Shiva temples.
This feature runs every Tuesday and Thursday. It is compiled by daughter of the soil Anselma Aimable, a former agricultural officer and former correspondent for Caribbean Net News, who has a deep interest in local culture and history. Send ideas and tips to [email protected]