Sea Poison Tree is a beach tree native of Asia and Australia. Sandy beaches and coastal regions with a dash of salt in the soil is the ideal place for these trees to grow best.
Sea Poison Tree is also known as Mudilla (in Sri Lanka), Langasat, Fish Poison Tree, box fruit tree, Putat Laut, Butun, Butong, Pertun, Balubiton, Lugo, Motong-botong, Vuton. Botanical name is Barringtonia asiatica and belong to Lecythidaceae (barringtonia) family.
I came across these trees in Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island and in Sentosa Island, Singapore. It is a medium sized evergreen tree with a handsome crown and grows to a height of 60 feet. The bark is dark brown and rough. Young leaves are bronze. Mature leaves are glossy dark green with visible veins and are clustered at the end of the branches, which are 20–40 cm long and 10–20 cm broad. Large leaves are held in rosettes at the ends of branches.
Flower buds are big, round, and green. Puffy big bunches of flowers bloom in off white to pink and bloom in the night. Four petals hold a mass of long pink-tipped stamens. By morning the petals fall off.
I was very lucky to get a picture (above and below) of few flowers with petals in Silosa Beach, Singapore.
Bats and moths pollinate the Sea Poison Tree flowers.
Large, green, and triangular fruits look like lanterns. The fruit turns brown after ripening and floats. The middle layer is spongy and contains air sacs to help the fruit float. The innermost layer is hard and thick to protect the seed (the layers of spongy and hard coverings are somewhat similar to the coconut).
All parts of the plants are poisonous.
In Philippines, intestinal worms, stomach ache and rheumatism is treated with heated Sea Poison tree leaves.
The wood is used to build fisherman’s floats. All parts of the plant are powdered, grated, or ground to a paste and is used to paralyze fish in freshwater streams to easily catch them.
Sea Poison Tree is a low growing evergreen tree. It can be propagated by seeds.