Crossing over the little creek that enters the ocean near Strand Waterpark my heart skipped a beat. Recently the profusion of lily plants beneath the trees had been culled and the gardens redressed. From a distance I could see the flowers sprinkled against the dark red of fresh bark chips.
Expectantly I hurried toward the Fish Poison Tree.
At night the sweet pungent perfume of the flowers attract nectar feeding bats and moths, which explains why the flowers that I find are usually damaged in some way, but when it rains overnight the gardens and paths are littered with perfect specimens.
Not just a pretty flower…
Don’t let the powder puff perfection of the pretty white pink and gold tipped creations fool you – every part of this tree is poisonous – but in a good way.
A Fish Stunner.
Indigenous peoples across Asia and the Pacific grate the seeds and use the mixture to stun fish in freshwater streams. This tree which you may well have sheltered beneath in India or on the streets of Singapore has 11cm wide box like fruit/seed pods that float on ocean currents like a coconut remaining viable for anywhere from 2 to 15 years.
It was the first seed to wash up and germinate on Anak Krakatau the island that appeared in 1927 following the Krakatau eruption.
Traditionally the leaves are heated and used to treat stomach ache and rheumatism in the Phillipines while it’s seeds are used to combat intestinal worms.
Fighting rising sea levels.
Known botanically as Barringtonia Asiatica the Fish Poison Tree is currently being planted on the shores of Vanuatu in an attempt to protect them from beach erosion due to rising sea levels.
To my eye a lot of the trees along the Strand look the same as the Fish Poison Tree but they are not. It is only this one group of trees that produce the flowers.
The tree itself is reminiscent of a mangrove tree, sturdy and not particularly attractive.
The flowers that bloom only at night are on the other hand, a profusion of delicate fairy like stamens supported by four pretty petals, and there is only one word to describe them.
Walking the Strand is our listed in our Fun Things to Do in Townsville and Magnetic Island post.