Sea Poison Tree
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Sea Poison Tree
ative Photo: Aarti Khale
Common name: Sea Poison Tree, Fish Poison Tree • Kannada: ಸಮುದ್ರಫಲ Samudra phala
Botanical name: Barringtonia asiatica    Family: Lecythidaceae (Barringtonia family)
Synonyms: Barringtonia speciosa

Sea Poison Tree is a small to medium-sized tree growing to 7–25 m tall. It has large leaves held in rosettes at the ends of branches. The leaves are narrow obovate, 20–40 cm long and 10–20 cm broad. The young leaves are a beautiful bronze with pinkish veins. Old leaves turn yellowish. The flowers are delightful puff balls of white stamens tipped with pink. They open at night and attract large moths and nectar-feeding bats with their heavy scent. The next morning, the flower stamens are usually found strewn beneath the tree. The fruits have a typical lantern shape and float on the water. The fruit can survive drifting on the sea for long distances and for periods of up to 2 years. All parts of the tree contain, saponin, a poison. The seeds and other parts of the plant are pounded, pulped or grated to release the poison and used to stun fish in freshwater streams. The floating seeds are sometimes used as fishing floats.
Medicinal uses: The heated leaves are used to treat stomach ache and rheumatism (Philippines); seeds are used to get rid of intestinal worms.

Identification credit: Dinesh Valke Photographed in Maharashtra.

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