Cannonball tree, is a deciduous tree in the flowering plant family Lecythidaceae. It is native to the tropical forests of Central and South America, and it is cultivated in many other tropical areas throughout the world because of its beautiful, fragrant flowers and large, interesting fruits. Fruits are brownish grey. There are medicinal uses for many parts of Couroupita guianensis
, and the tree has cultural and religious significance in India.
This large deciduous tropical tree, 75' tall and indigenous to the Amazon rainforest, is listed as a rare tree and flower in India. The leaves, up to 6" long, are simple with serrate margin; it flowers in racemes which is cauliflorus; the yellow, reddish and pink flowers are stunning fragrant. These are 3" to 5" waxy aromatic smelling, pink and dark-red flowers growing directly on the bark of the trunk. The tree bears, directly on the trunk and main branches, large globose woody fruits; they look like big rusty cannonballs hanging in clusters, like balls on a string. Cannon ball trees usually carry 'CAUTION' signs posted on the trunks to advise people not to stand close to and directly under the fruits as one can get hurt as they drop off by themselves. The fruit contains small seeds in a white, unpleasant smelling white jelly, which are exposed when the upper half of the fruit goes off like a cover. The long dangling fruity branches give the tree an unkempt appearance. The hard shells are used to make containers and utensils. Cannon ball flowers are considered of special significance in Buddhist culture in Sri Lanka. In Tamil Nadu, it is called Nagalingam flower. The sivalingam shape is visible at the center of the flower and snake shaped pollen is the specialty of this flower and it has very good fragrance. This rare flower can be used for Shiva Pooja.
Cannonball tree (Couroupita guianensis)
is planted as an ornamental for its showy, scented flowers, and as a botanical specimen for its interesting fruit.
The fruit is edible, but is not usually eaten by people because, in contrast to its intensely fragrant flowers, it can have an unpleasant smell. It is fed to livestock such as pigs and domestic fowl.
There are many medicinal uses for the plant. Native Amazonians use extracts of several parts of the tree to treat hypertension, tumors, pain, and inflammation. It has been used to treat the common cold, stomachache, skin conditions and wounds, malaria, and toothache.