by Swatee Jog
Belgaum is known for its rich flora, home to many rare trees. Move around Belgaum and you can still find several trees with colourful, fragrant flowers. One rare tree that is found in Belgaum is the Cannonball tree, also known as Kailashpati, with the Latin name Couroupita guianensis gained from French explorer and botanist J.F. Aublet in 1775 when he discovered it. An evergreen tree, it is a member of the Brazil-nut tree family. The tree, native to the southern Caribbean and northern parts of South America, has been known in India for at least 3,000 years, where it is so revered that it is often found growing at temples, especially dedicated to Lord Shiva.
It gets its name from the size of its fruits that look similar to cannon balls and which make a loud thud when they burst upon falling to the ground. A fruit falling on your head could cause serious injury and hence, many countries stick a board to warn passers-by about its presence. The fruits grow clinging to the bark of the tree and not on its foliage. Flowers first appear on the bark, dark orange in color with a sharp sweet smell.
These flowers are offered to Lord Shiva because the structure of the flower that resembles a snake hood. Only 5 cannonball trees are known in Belgaum, one in the Belgaum fort, one opposite The Maruti temple in Hindwadi, two at the animal’s park (Science Park) at Budhwar Peth and one at the RLS college campus. In order to trace this rare and beautiful tree, we appeal to the citizens of Belgaum to let us know the location so that it can be mapped.
We, at Bharatesh Education Trust, are in the process of planting more of this tree, however, the horticulture department does not have this sapling and neither does any nursery in Belgaum. It is, however, available online, which is the way we are ordering it for further propogation.
About the Author: Swatee Jog is a Training and Placement Officer at Bharatesh Global Business School, Belagavi.