This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(from the Greek word for nut). Caryo-caracese; formerly included in Ternstroemiacese, and by some referred to Rhizobolceae. Trees, or rarely shrubs, of about 10 species in tropical Amer., one of which is well known for its large edible nuts. Leaves opposite, digitately 3-5-f oliolate, leathery, often serrate: flowers bractless, in terminal racemes; calyx deeply 5-6-parted, the lobes orbiculate and strongly imbricate; petals 5-6, imbricate; stamens many, somewhat joined at the base; ovary 4-6-celled: fruit drupaceous, with a hard stone or stones and very large seeds. C. nuciferum, Linn., produces the souari-nut or butternut of the American tropics. Although native of Guiana, it is cult, in some of the W. Indies isls.: tree, attaining 100 ft. or more, producing durable timber used chiefly in ship-building: leaves trifoliolate, the leaflets elliptic-lanceolate, glabrous: flowers large, purple, the stamens white and very numerous: fruit several inches in diam., nearly globular or becoming misshapen by abortion of the contents, containing 2-4 hard-shelled nuts the size of a hen's egg, and which are flat-kidney-shaped, warty and reddish brown; kernel or meat white, with a nutty or almond-like flavor, and yielding oil when subjected to pressure.
B.M. 2727, 2728. The nuts now and then appear in northern markets. The closely allied C. vil-losum, Pers., of Guiana and Brazil, is reported as a notable timber tree; and the oily pulp surrounding the seed is eaten boiled and the kernel of the seed is eaten raw. L. H. B.