Couroupita guianensis, whose common names include Ayahuma and the Cannonball Tree, is an evergreen tree allied to the Brazil Nut (Bertholletia excelsa), and is native to tropical northern South America and to the southern Caribbean. In India it has been growing for the past two or three thousand years at least, as attested by textual records; hence it is possible that it is native to India also.
Hindus revere it as a sacred tree because the petals of the flower resemble the hood of the Naga, a sacred snake, protecting a Shiva Lingam, the stigma.
The tree gets its common name from the large, spherical fruits it produces. The fruit falls from the tree and cracks open when it hits the ground when mature, often causing the sound of a small explosion. The fruit emits an unpleasant aroma when exposed to the air.
Individual seeds within the "ball" are coated with hair, which is thought to protect the seed when it is ingested and may also help in the passage of the seed through the intestines.
The cannonball tree and it's fruit are thought by some to be remnants of the last ice age, like the "hedge apple" or "osage orane" of north America. The fruit is thought to be an adaptation provided for the giant ground sloth, a long extinct species.
The tree grows up to 25m (82ft) in height.
Its flowers are orange, scarlet and pink in color, and form large bunches measuring up to 3m in length.
Information courtesy: Wikipedia
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