Cannon Ball Tree
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Cannon Ball Tree
ntroduced Photo: P. Rao Pulakhandam
Common name: Cannon Ball Tree • Hindi: Nagalinga नागलिंग, Tope gola तोप गोला • Kannada: ನಾಗಲಿಂಗ Naagalinga, ಲಿಂಗದಹೂವಿನಮರ Lingada hoovina mara • Marathi: Shivalingam • Bengali: Kaman gola • Tamil: நாகலிங்கம் Naagalingam
Botanical name: Couroupita guianensis     Family: Lecythidaceae (Barringtonia family)

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.
Identification credit: P. Rao Pulakhandam Photographed in cultivation.

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