Lantern Tree
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Lantern Tree
E Native Photo: Aditya Gadkari
Common name: Lantern Tree
Botanical name: Hernandia nymphaeifolia    Family: Hernandiaceae (Hernandia family)
Synonyms: Biasolettia nymphaeifolia, Hernandia peltata, Hernandia vitiensis

Lantern Tree is an evergreen sea-shore tree up to 22 m tall, with an uneven, open, rounded crown. It is prominent due to its shield-like leaves and its blackish fruits surrounded by a round, inflated yellowish covering, open at one end, looking like lanterns. Its spirally arranged, long-stalked leaves have rather fleshy-leathery leaf blades that are usually broadly egg-shaped, short-tipped, and up to 33 x 29 cm, with yellowish veins and midribs. The leaf blades are attached at the centre of its undersides to the stalk. The species name nymphaeifolia means waterlily-like leaves. Its much-branched, upright flowering shoots are up to 30 cm long. They bear fragrant flowers that are yellowish-white and 8.5 mm wide. Its long-stalked fruits are black nuts, grow in drooping clusters, and about 2.5 cm long, with 8-10 longitudinal grooves. The fruit is enclosed inside a cup that is up to 2.5 cm wide, and pale green then greyish-white. Lantern Tree is found in Andaman Islands, W. Indian Ocean to Pacific, and also some coastal parts of Africa.

Identification credit: Aditya Gadkari Photographed in Havelock Island, Andaman & Nicobar.

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