On Sunday, when I was waiting in line to be admitted to a wedding feast, a nearby tree caught my eye. The flowers were fascinating. I soon realized a young man standing near me was talking about the tree. He said it was called Naga Linga and was a very sacred tree. He mentioned that the tree had that name because the flowers look like the hood of a cobra (naga is the Sanskrit word for snake). Later, I learned that another name for the tree is Shiva Linga and that they are often planted near Shiva temples. The tree is also sacred to Buddhists. (Click on the gallery below to enlarge the pictures.)
There were only a few flowers on the tree in Amritapuri. I hope someday I will be here when all the buds are open. It must be a stunning sight.
The English name for the tree is Cannonball. The reason for that becomes obvious when you see the fruit. I found these photos on Wikimedia.
The fruit can reach a diameter of 10 inches. When one falls to the ground it may cause a loud explosive sound. The fruit usually cracks open at that time. The pulp inside is edible but humans often don’t like the smell so it is usually eaten by animals.
Wikipedia says this about the tree’s medicinal value:
There are many medicinal uses for the plant. Native Amazonians use extracts of several parts of the tree to treat hypertension, tumors, pain, and inflammation. It has been used to treat the common cold, stomachache, skin conditions and wounds, malaria, and toothache. The fruit pulp is rubbed on sick dogs to cure them of mange. Laboratory tests show that extracts of the plant have some antimicrobial activity and inhibit the formation of biofilms.
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