Beach Gardenia
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Beach Gardenia
ative Photo: Prashant Awale
Common name: Beach Gardenia, zebra wood
Botanical name: Guettarda speciosa    Family: Rubiaceae (Coffee family)
Synonyms: Jasminum hirsutum, Guettarda tahitensis, Matthiola speciosa

Beach Gardenia is a perennial shrub or small tree 2-6 m tall by 1-3 m wide with smooth creamy grey bark. The fragrant white flowers are 2.5-3 cm long with 4-9 petals. Large oval-shaped leaves are 15-23 cm long by 10-18 cm wide, dark green and smooth above with prominent paler veins, finely hairy underneath. Flowers are followed by sweet-smelling globular hard fruit, measuring 1 x 1 inch, which mature in September to March. The large leaves were used in various ways by the indigenous people of northern Australia; they could hold food, and when heated, they were given to relieve headaches and aches in limbs. The stems could be used to make Macassan pipes. The flowers were used to scent coconut oil on the Cook Islands, and the wood for dwellings and canoes. Flowering: October-May.

Identification credit: Prashant Awale
Photographed at Thinnakara Island at Lakshadweep.
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