What an amazing sight it was? You need to see to believe in its beauty: the flowers cascading down the tree trunk like scores earthen lamps tied to a string. I had almost missed it hadn’t been for my gardener friend who introduced me to it sometime in the third week of February. The Cannon Ball true was in full bloom. I gasped in wonder at the mesmerizing splendour standing several stories high in front of me. At its foot was lying a couple of flowers which had lived its day.
The Nagalinga or Shiva Linga tree has been grown widely in Shiva temples across India. In Hindi, it is also called Shiv Kamal or Kailaspati. Interestingly the petals of the Naga Linga flower resemble the hood a snake.
It’s very unlikely that you will come across a Cannon Ball tree: for they are as rare as the Baobab Tree. Though the tree produces fruits the size of Cannon Ball the seeds rarely germinate. The fruits are large, round and heavy as their namesakes. When falling on the earth, they often do so with loud and explosive noise. Naturally, so they are not planted next to footpaths. You know why? Because a falling fruit could easily cause a fatal injury!
Native to the southern Caribbean and northern parts of South America it has been known in India for at least 3,000 years; found growing at temples.
The fruit appears to be developing straight from the trunk of the tree like in the case of jackfruit. The fruit has a truly awful stench to it, unlike the flowers which are very brightly coloured with strong, sweet-scented blooms.