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 a vernacular name in Guiana). Lecythidaceae. Trees of tropical Amer. (about 9 species) sometimes planted as oddities or for shade, particularly for the curiosity of the great ball-like fruits borne on the trunk. Leaves alternate, oblong, reticulate, entire or crenate-serrate: flowers showy and odd, borne in racemes, often from the trunk and larger branches; calyx-tube top-shaped, the limb 6-lobed or -divided; petals 6, somewhat unequal, spreading and more or less incurved, borne on a disk; stamens many, in 2 sets,-one series forming a ring or cup in the center of the flower and about the single 5-7-celled ovary, the other longer and rising from one side like a fringed palm or ladle over the pistil: fruit a large nearly or quite globular ball, coriaceous or woody, indehiscent, with many seeds imbedded in the pulp. C. guianensis, Aubl. Cannon-ball Tree. Figs. 1084, 1085. Tall soft-wooded tree in Guiana, where it is native: leaves oblong-obovate, elliptic or broad-lanceolate, acute, entire or very obscurely toothed: flowers with concave petals about 2 in. long, yellow- and red-tinged on the exterior and crimson-lilac within, very showy, in racemes 2-3 ft. long: fruit nearly or quite globular, 6-8 in. diam., reddish, hard on the exterior, pulpy inside, with very disagreeable odor when ripe.
B.M. 3158-9. - Sometimes planted in the tropics, in botanic gardens and elsewhere. Shell of the fruit used for utensils, and the pulp said to be eaten by negroes and to be used for the making of beverages. l. h. B.
Fig. 1084. Couroupita guianensis, the cannon-ball tree, showing the trunk and the hanging flowers and fruits.
Fig. 1085. Flower of Couroupita guianensis. One of the petals has fallen. (X 1/4)