Botanical Ordnance: Cannonball Tree

A more fascinating tree I’ve never come across. It’s more commonly known as the cannonball tree because its russet-colored fruits are shaped like and almost as heavy as cannonballs and give off an explosive sound when they fall and hit the ground. The fruit pulp inside is bluish-gray and attracts wild animals which eat the seeds that get propagated through droppings. The balls are attached to woody extrusions from the trunk. In big clusters around the tree trunk, they look odd.

The other surprise is the strangely beautiful flower. The petals have a magenta and peach color. Some of the stamens, blue-violet with yellow tips, look like sea anemone tentacles that protrude from the tip of a hood-like structure, while less showy and shorter stamens line the inside in a ring pattern. Unlike the fruit pulp which give off a stench, the flower has a pleasant perfumy aroma.

For obvious reasons, these trees are generally not planted where people are expected to be walking below. I saw this specimen growing in Foster Botanical Garden in Honolulu and another one at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden in Papaikou near Hilo.

Both fruit and flowers grow from woody appendages
Both fruit and flowers grow from woody appendages
Fallen cannonball tree fruit
Fallen cannonball tree fruit

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