Nature can provide us at times with the most spectacular examples of flora and fauna. One wonderful exemplar in point is a species of tree that is native to the southern Caribbean and northern parts of South America, yet has been known in India for at least 3,000 years, where it is so revered that it is often found growing at religious temples.
The name of this glorious tree is very indicative of the characteristics it displays. Popularly referred to as the ‘cannonball tree’ because not only are the fruits as large, round and heavy as their namesakes, but when falling to the earth, they often do so with loud and explosive noises. Naturally, such trees are not planted next to footpaths, because a falling fruit could easily cause a fatal injury.
Perhaps the curiosity provoked by this strange tree comes from the fact that the fruit appears to be developing straight from the trunk of the tree as opposed to normal fruit trees like the apple, but also in that the fruit has a truly awful stench to it, unlike the flowers. These too, are extremely odd, developing in enormous bunches of up to twelve feet long, and are very brightly colored with strong, sweet scented blooms.