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Family Lecythidaceae
Cannonball tree
Couroupita guianensis Aubl.

Scientific names Common names
Scientific name Linn. Cannon ball tree (Engl.)
Scientific name Linn. Shivaling (Hindi)
  Coco de mono (Span.)
  Abrico de Macaco (Span.)

Cuoropita guianensis is a large evergreen tree growing to a height of 20 meters. Leaves are alternate, oblong-obovate, up to 20 centimeters long, entire to slightly serrate and hairy on the veins beneath. Inflorescence is racemose, arising from the trunk and other large branches. Flowers are reddish with a yellow tinge on the outside, fragrant, with stamens borne on an overarching androphore. Fruit is a large, reddish-brown globose, 15 to 24 centimeters, with a woody capsule, and each containing 200 to 300 seeds.

- Recent introduction.
- As ornamental trees along highways and in parks.

- Native to tropical northern South America, especially the Amazon rainforest, and the southern Carribean.
- Also occurs in India, where it is probably native, and Thailand.

- Flowers yield an alipathic hydrocarbon and stigmasterol.
- Flowers yielded alkaloids, phenolics and flavonoids.
- Yielded active principles isatin and indirubin (vital to its antimicrobial activity).
- Phytochemical screening yielded flavonoids: 2',4'-dihydroxy-6'-methoxy-3',5'-dimethylchalcone, 7-hydroxy-5-methoxy-6,8-dimethylflavanone and the phenolic acid 4-hydroxybenzoic acid.

Considered antibiotifc, antifungal, antiseptic, and analgesic.

Parts used
Juice, leaves, fruit.


Fruits are edible, but only occasionally eaten because of the unpleasant odor of the white flesh.
No known medicinal use in the Philippines.
Elsewhere, used to treat colds and stomachaches.
Juice from leaves used for skin diseases.
Shamans of South America used tree parts for malaria.
Fruit pulp used to disinfect wounds.
Young leaves used for toothache.
Religious / Ritual: (1) Hindus consider it a sacred tree as the petals of the flowers resemble the sacred snake, Naga, a cobra protecting a Shiva Lingam with its hood. (2) In some parts of India, the tree is worshipped by childless couples.
Fragrant flowers can be used to scent perfumes and cosmetics.
Wood: (1) Hard shells of the fruit sometimes used as containers and utensils. (2) Wood used for making incense.

Antimicrobial / Antioxidant:
Study showed antimicrobial activity against Shigella flexneri, Staph aureus and Candida albicans. The phenolic and flavonoid fractions showed strong antioxidant potential.
Antinociceptive: Results showed Couroupita guianensis exhibited nociceptive activity mediated, in part, by opioid and cholinergic systems and the nitric oxide pathway.
Wound Healing / Antimicrobial: Study of ethanolic extract of whole plant of CG (bark, leaves, flowers and fruits) on excision and incision wound models showed accelateration of the wound healing process by reduction of surface area of the wound and increasing tensile strength. Moderate activity was observed against all test organisms.
Anthelmintic: Study tested the activity of chloroform, acetone and ethanolic flower extracts of CG for anthelmintic activity against adult earth worm, Pheritima posthuma. The alcholic extract was the most effect in an activity comparable with Piperazine citrate.
Skin Fibroblast Proliferation / Antioxidant: Study of hydroalcoholic extract strongly indicated antioxidant activity attributed to phenolic content. Also, significant stimulation of HSF proliferation and absorption of UV radiation was noted. Results suggest promising skin care properties.
Studies: Studies

Leaves, plant plant parts in the cybermarket.

August 2011

IMAGE SOURCE:Flower Close-up / File:Abrico de Macaco.JPG/ From: Dictionnaire des sciences naturelles. Planches … Botanique classée d’après la méthode naturelle de M. Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu by Pierre Jean François Turpin. / Paris & Strasbourg, F.G. Levrault, 1816-1829, volume 5, plate 227 + 228 + 229. 3 hand-coloured and colour-printed engravings after Turpin (sheet 120 x 213 mm). Meemelink
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Flower / Couroupita guianensis / File:Abrico de Macaco.JPG / Paulomsr / 2006.03.07 / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Couroupita guianensis or Cannon ball tree / File:Cannon ball tree.jpg / Challiyil Eswaramangalath Vipin / Chalakudy, India / 15 March 2008 / Creative Commons Attribution / Wikimedia Commons

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Couroupita guianensis / Wikipedia
Cannonball tree / National Tropical Botanical Garden
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION / D Kavitha / 2011 / shodhganga.inflibnet
Antinociceptive activity of fractions from Couroupita guianensis Aubl. leaves / Mariana M G Pinheiro, Sidnei O Bessa et al /
Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 127, Issue 2, 3 February 2010, Pages 407-413 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2009.10.025
Antimicrobial, Wound Healing and Antioxidant potential of Couroupita guianensis in rats / Sanjay. Prahalad Umachigi; Jayaveera K. N et al / Pharmacologyonline, Volume 3, p.269-281 (2007)
Protective effect against oxygen reactive species and skin fibroblast stimulation of Couroupita guianensis leaf extracts / Ana Martinez, Enma Conde, Andres Moure et al / Natural product research. 01/2011; DOI: 10.1080/14786411003752094

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