Singapore Sling -Canon balls

Nature table explorers Pat and Steve have shared some incredible photos from Singapore, the plants and animals are fantastic.

This tree,the canon ball tree (Couroupita guianensis) is another really interesting find.

They are native to Central and South America but are grown throughout tropical areas. In India they have spiritual significance and are often grown at shrines. In the Amazon they have many medicinal uses.

The tree gets its common name the canon ball tree from the hard spherical fruits that hang from racemes that grow directly out of the trunk. These can be 80 cm long and are loaded with beautiful scented flowers prior to the fruit. At any one time a single tree can have 1000 flowers.

The other reason the tree is called canon ball is that when these fruits fall the make a load crack or explosion . Inside the fruit is soft and pulpy and has an unpleasant smell. Within the pulp are seeds covered in irritant hairs. The pulp is eaten by animals, the seeds passing through the digestive system dispersing the trees.

The flowers are pollinated by bees, mainly carpenter bees. The flower produces no nectar but is highly scented. Interestingly it produces two types of pollen , one fertile and one sterile. The structure of the flower means that the bee has to brush past the fertile pollen to reach the sterile pollen that it has as a food source. The pollen laden bee travels to another flower repeating this process and pollination has occurred, amazing evolution.

Because of the canon balls falling from the trees they are not planted where people are walking , I found this picture which suggests otherwise.

A really big thanks to Pat and Steve for sharing the fantastic wildlife and flora of Singapore.


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