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Plants in our sales nursery – Hura crepitans

June 21, 2010

Hura crepitans (Euphorbiaceae) is a fast-growing tree, and a member of our lion cage at Dokmai Garden. It resembles something designed by Disney for a cartoon, or like a dangerous tree suitable for the movie ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’. First of all, the trunk is armed with hooked spikes, quite painful. Many Thais think this is their Thai  ‘ton niu’, but that is Bombax ceiba (Bombacaceae). This tree comes from South America. Secondly, it has separate male and female flowers, where the females look like red mushrooms and the male flower cluster looks like a red miniature corncob. Thirdly, when the fruits open, they explode with a loud ‘bang’, hurling the seeds many meters away, scaring birds and buffaloes. Finally, its latex in combination with the spines protect it from any vegetarian. The latex is so powerful it can be used as a fish poison, and even kill anaconda snakes. At present we have one seedling for sale, a sibling to the two trees on display in the garden.

Eric Danell

The female flower of Hura crepitans looks like a red mushroom.

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