Couroupita guianensis (Cannonball Tree)

  • TropPlant Accession Number (TPAN): 0188
  • Botanical Name: Couroupita guianensis
  • Common Name: Cannonball Tree
  • Cultivar: N/A
  • Family: Lecythidaceae
Couroupita guianensis
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Native To: Northern South America specifically the Guianas

Landscaping Information

    • Plant Type: Tree
    • Texture: Dense, Coarse
    • Form: Round-Headed to Upright-broad to Irregular
    • Height (on average, in landscape use):   >90'
    • Height to Spread Ratio:  2:1
    • Growth Rate: Medium, Fast
    • Landscape Values: Accent, Background, Border, Shade, Sculptural Form, Specimen
    • Outstanding Quality: Flower Color, Fragrance, Form/Silhouette, Fruit
    Couroupita guianensis
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Botanical Descriptions

    • Flowers: Unique flower type. 5-6", 6 pink to deep red petals. Fertile stamens are cream to yellow and arranged like a disc around the pistil. Infertile staminodes protrude out over the pistil with more vibrant colors and fodder pollen o be eaten by bees. Pleasantly fragrant. Arranged on a long inflorescence usually arising from the main trunk.
    Couroupita guianensis flower. Note the protruding infertile staminodes
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Couroupita guianensis inflorescence 
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Couroupita guianensis inflorescence 
    Photo by Theerapon Angsupanich
    • Fruits: 6-8", hard, wooded, spherical fruits that appear like a cannonball. Fruits fall off the tree and crack, revealing the odorous pulp and seeds for animals to consume and spread. When the fruits crash to the ground, especially hard surfaces, it sounds like an explosion. when ripe the violet to red pulp smalls rather unpleasant to most people. It can be described as a decaying animal's entrails. 
    Couroupita guianensis developing fruit
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    • Foliage Color: Young/immature: Light Green. Mature: Bright Medium Green
    • Foliage Tip: Acute to Acuminate
    • Foliage Base: Acute
    • Petiole: 0.25"-0.75"
    • Stipules: small or absent
    • Margins: Smooth
    • Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
    • Leaf Shape: Oblong
    • Leaf Type: Simple
    • Leaf Texture: a somewhat "standard" leaf feel. somewhat leathery.
    • Leaf Special Notes: leaves can be up to a foot long. Pleasant leaves 
    Couroupita guianensis leaves
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

      Couroupita guianensis trunk with fruits.
      Photo by Matthew Gaston
    • Bark and Trunk: furrowed brownish gray bark, but the main trunk is usually covered in inflorescences and fruits. 
    Couroupita guianensis trunk with inflorescences. This particular tree has not set fruit.
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Couroupita guianensis trunk with inflorescences
    Photo by Matthew

    Horticultural Information

      • Light Preference: Full Sun
      • Light Tolerances: Semi-Sun
      • Soil Preferences: Not Particular, Loam, Organic, Moist
      • Tolerances: Not Particular...?
      • Water Requirements: Moderate
      • Notes on Maintenance: Falling fruits are dangerous. Ripe fruits present an unpleasant odor. A large tree requiring lots of room to grow and allow a buffer zone for falling fruits. 
      • Propagation: Seeds
      • Minimum USDA Hardiness Zone: 10a
      • Weed Risk Assessment Score (WRA): -1,  Low Risk

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