A reader had asked for the cannonball tree - known as the naga lingam tree in Tamil -there are several around the city but i had been searching for one where i could see the entire tree, not jsut the portion that appears above someone's garden wall. And i was pleasantly surprised today to see several at the Theosophical Society.
The scientific name for the tree is Couroupita guianensis. It is native to South America and the Caribbean. In India, it is a sacred tree (the Hindu religion is indeed very tree friendly, just about every tree is marked sacred and hence cultivated extensively) and is grown around Shiva temples. The Cannon ball tree has antibiotic, antifungal, antiseptic and analgesic qualities and hence many medicinal uses.
The trunk is covered with thick snake like extrusions among which are found the cannon like fruits and ornamental flowers. The extrusions remind me of myself on a bad hair day! You simply must click on the picture of the flower and take a closer look at it. It is such a beauty! In local culture it is thought of to be like the mythical thousand headed snake (naga), protecting a lingam, hence the name naga lingam.
As i was taking these pictures i could smell the flowers and oh it was heavenly. Several lay on the ground among the brown leaves. It was quite a sight - but for the heat i would have loved to spend more time there, taking in the smell and sights.