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PlantFiles: Cannon Ball Tree, Castanha-de-Macaco
Couroupita guianensis

Family: Lecythidaceae
Genus: Couroupita (koo-roo-PEE-ta) (Info)
Species: guianensis (gee-uh-NEN-sis) (Info)

Synonym:Couratari pedicellaris
Synonym:Lecythis bracteata
Synonym:Pekea couroupita

13 members have or want this plant for trade.


over 40 ft. (12 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction
Pollen may cause allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Blooms all year


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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7 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive ashutoshji On Aug 10, 2013, ashutoshji from Vadodara
India wrote:

I have planted this tree out side my house at a distance of about 20 feet. The tree is about 15 meter tall and its age
is about 8 years . I am really eager to see its flowers but it
has not blossomed yet. How much time it takes to blossom?
can anyone help? Ashutosh Joshi Vadodara Gujarat state
India 390021

Positive AndyBonsai On Aug 3, 2012, AndyBonsai from other
Germany wrote:

this is one of the most beautiful and interesting tree i have ever seen. i have allready seedlings of Couroupita nicaraguarensis and seeds of this species arrived today.
too bad that this tree needs up to 15 years for the first beautiful flower. im trying to get cuttings of an old tree for an earlier flower, i hope i have luck. i dont want to wait wait up to 15 years for the first beautiful flower ! when here is someone who can help me with cuttings of an tree which allready flowers please contact me.


Positive Chanchal On Feb 4, 2012, Chanchal from West Bengal
India wrote:

Hi everybody ,
I grow this beautiful tree both in ground and pots. Its a very hardy and fast growing tree but shades leaves frequently .
It takes nearly 12 to 15 yrs to bloom. After 10yrs of age few apply bone dust or phos to have early bloom. It is said heating with sharp knife after 3 inch to cut the bark at stem quicken bloom .
It spreads root long . But after 15 ft it is not so harmful for conustruction though an engnr should be consulted. If needed , dig soil nearly 10 ft away the tree once a year to cut large roots . Ive planted one in a large 6ft wide 6ft long cement pipe . Its fantastic.
The plants in pots are nearly 6 yr old and growing to be large bonsais.

Positive Karthic On Dec 13, 2010, Karthic from coimbatore
India wrote:

Dear sir,
We have a Cannon Ball tree around 10 years old ,but still not yet bloom started.
How many years will take to bloom flower ?
Awaitng for your reply,

Thanks in advance ,

Karthic - Coimbatore

Neutral premomoy On Jul 26, 2010, premomoy from Kolkata
India wrote:

I was amazed when I first saw the flowers in the trees in my university campus - Jadavpur University, Kolkata. Since then I was in search of a sapling. Now, I got one and has put it in my domestic garden which is a small garden. The distance between the tree and my newly constructed house with RCC structure is just 15 feet. The other sides of the plant is wide open, with a big pond on one side. Now, I have been told by some people that the rootsystem of the tree is harmful for the structure of the building. Can anyone please let me know how the rootsystem of the tree spreads?

Positive eassarma On Sep 20, 2005, eassarma from Visakhapatnam
India wrote:

This tree is not grown commonly in my place. Visakhapatnam, the place of my residence, is located on the east coast of India. Known locally as "nagamalli", it is a special kind of a tree as its flowers are offered in worship of the important deity of India, Shiva. The reason for this is that the inner portion of the flower resembles a snake with its hood fully open. In my language, Telugu, "naga" means the snake and "malli" means the jasmine flower. The flower is pink in colour and it presents an attractive sight.
There is a "couroupita guianensis" tree right in front of my house. It's height is about 80-90 feet.
The roots of the tree seem to spread deep and wide, reaching out to 40-50 feet sideways into the ground. No reports of any skin allergies on touching the flower with hands.
It flowers continuously throughout the year. The flowers sprout from the trunk of the tree, not from its foliage. This tree sheds its leaves twice a year, once before the winter (mid September) and once after winter (about six months later). The process of shedding leaves is completed within a couple of days and fresh leaves sprout almost simultaneously. The place where I live is a coastal city and it is usually warm and humid. The city receives fairly good precipitation from the monsoon rain. It is not clear as to why the tree should shed its leaves more often than the other tree species in this place.

Neutral foodiesleuth On Jun 23, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

I have seen specimens of this tree at the Foster Botanical Garden near the Chinatown area in Honolulu. I haven't seen any others growing outside the gardens, though

Positive desertboot On Jun 22, 2004, desertboot from Bangalore
India (Zone 10a) wrote:

Thrives in Southern India. There are two very tall trees, perennially in bloom, overhanging a road I often take. The fragrance takes over the entire stretch. Heavenly. The flowers are prized offerings to the god Shiva, and it isn't uncommon to find a cannonball tree in the corner of an ancient temple courtyard;rarely planted in domestic gardens because of their intrusive root-stystem

Positive heathlyn On Jun 21, 2004, heathlyn from Walkerton,Ont
Canada wrote:

I have seen this plant growing in Port of Spain Trinidad at the Government House. I have a photo of myself holding a blossom. The trip was taken in March.


Neutral Monocromatico On Jul 30, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

This is a medium to large tree from Amazon. The name "Cannon Ball Tree" comes from the fruits, big as cannon balls, hanging on special branches along the trunk. The tree needs full sun, warm temperatures all the year, well drained, organic soil and regular watering, never overwater it.

This tree can reach up to 20 m tall, but it stays around 10-15, usually. It has bright green leaves that may fall in after really dry seasons, although they won't if you keep it humid all the year (making the leaves fall is not recomended, since they don´t change colors and make the tree look awkward). Despite the height, this tree doesn't demand much room, the roots grow deep into the soil, mostly.

The flowers come from special branches on the lower part of the trunk, and may appear only after the tree reaches at least 5 m tall. The are big, and gorgeous. 6 red petals that exhalate a sweet scent (some people find it disgusting, but I think it´s delicious). The stamens come in two types: the long, sterile ones are joined together on an structure called "urceolus", white with pink tips that look like a sea anemone; the fertile ones are short and form a disk around the ovarium. The flowers usually atract large bees and more rarely beetles.

The fruits are brown, of the size of a bowling ball, or a handball, and have a hard shell. The white pulp rapidly turns dark when in contact with oxygen. The several seeds contain an oil that will keep them alive for a while, I don't know how long, though.

There are some restrictions about cultivating this tree. Some people are allergic to the pollen and/or the fruits, so handling them, or even coming too close to them may cause skin irritation. The fruit's pulp can´t be ingested, it's very toxic, causing a burning sensation in your throat that can last for hours, making it to swell (I know this by experience... :^P). The fruits are heavy, and they fall when they start to rot, so it's not a good idea to plant it on places with heavy people traffic, or on parking lots. Finally, the fallen fruits must be removed from the ground, because they start to exhalate a strong rotting smell shortly afterward.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Loxahatchee, Florida
Miami, Florida
Mulberry, Florida
Naples, Florida
Tavernier, Florida
Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaii

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