Sunday, 22 March 2009

the beautiful and the weird

If there is one tree I would like to plant in my garden, it has to be the cannonball tree or Couroupita guianensis, and it is not difficult to see why.

While the fruits may be spectacular in their own right, it is the flowers which are truly magnificent! In fact, the cannon ball tree is planted in gardens primarily because of its large, beautiful and pleasantly aromatic flowers. It is quite frankly, unlike any other flower a newcomer to the tropics has ever seen. Even the fruits are a botanical curiosity because they are in the shape and size of cannon balls that, like the flowers, arise from the trunk of the tree. And in contrast to the flowers, they release a foetid aroma when they hit the ground and break open.

Unfortunately, one would require a fairly large garden to grow this tree as the thick woody extensions that grow and cascade from the main brown scaly trunk of the tree does take up quite a bit of space. Still, it is a great specimen for any avid gardener and definitely a talking point of the garden.

Mature specimens can be found at the Singapore Botanic Gardens (Ginger Gardens), the Esplanade and Sembawang parks.

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