Common names: Cannonball tree, Ayahuma, Naga Linga
Scientific name: Couroupita guianensis
Plant history & use:
The Cannonball Tree is a peculiar tree of tropical origin. It's often grown in both Buddhist and Hindu temples and is seen as a holy tree. The Hindu name Naga (= snake-like) comes from the fact that the flower seems to resemble a gaping snake. The common English name Cannonball refers to the tree's fruits, which actually become so large and heavy that they resemble cannonballs.
The tree is colorful and bears an unimaginable number of flowers - up to 1000 in one and the same day - in its natural environment. The flowers have a strong, pleasant fragrance that is best described as a mixture of lilac and peony. The fruits have an even more distinct, many times less popular scent. Despite this, the fruit is used for edible purposes.
Traditionally, the outer shells are used to make utensils and bowls. In traditional medicine, both leaves, flowers, pulp and bark are used to cure various ailments. The tree has been well used by many cultures on different locations on earth, ranging from the Amazon rainforest tribes to ancient China.
In nature, C. guianensis grows along rivers and swamps. But it also does well in drier soils. The tree thrives in sunny locations and young plants grow quickly in favorable conditions. The Cannonball tree can grow tens of meters high in its native environment.
In Southern Europe, around the coastal regions of Spain, Italy, Albania, Greece and Turkey, C. guianensis can be grown outdoors all year round.
In Northern & Central Europe, you can easily grow this tree in a pot, which is placed outdoors in summertime. During the winter months, it can be good to place a humidifier nearby to create the best environmental conditions possible.
The tree can be propagated via cuttings.
Seeds from C. guianensis have a short shelf life and should be sown as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the seeds should be kept moderately moist. (For this reason, the seeds are delivered in slightly moist coconut fiber).
Sow about 1 cm deep in moist soil and keep the soil moist.
Location: Sun/Part shade
Height: 2-30 m
Germination Time: 8-60 days
USDA Zone: 10-12