Cannonball Tree Flower

With its quaint looking cannonball like fruits and odd ‘alien’ like bright red flowers, the cannonball tree certainly attracts the curiosity and attention of those who have not seen it before. This particular tree at FRIM, laden with cannonballs and blooming flowers emanating a sweet scent were certainly drawing the bees and keeping them busy with work that sunny morning. The flowers are rather large at about 3 inches in diameter, which allows me to use a close focusing wide angle lens to shoot it with and fill the frame nicely with interesting details of the blooming flowers and buds.

A Cannonball Tree (Couroupita Guianensis) Flower Soaking Up The Morning Sunshine

Some interesting facts about the cannonball tree excerpted from Wikipedia …

The cannonball tree (Couroupita guianensis), is a deciduous tree in the family Lecythidaceae, which also includes the Brazil nut and Paradise nut. It is native to the rainforests of Central and South America, and it is cultivated in many other tropical areas throughout the world because of its beautiful, fragrant flowers and large, interesting fruits.

The tree reaches to a height of 110 feet. The leaves, in clusters at the ends of branches, are usually 3 to 12 inches long. The flowers are born in racemes up to 31 inches long. Some trees flower profusely until the entire trunk is covered with racemes. One tree can hold as many as 1000 flowers per day. The flowers are strongly scented, and are especially fragrant at night and in the early morning. Flowers are up to 2.5 inches in diameter, with six petals, and are typically brightly colored, with the petals ranging from shades of pink and red near the bases to yellowish toward the tips. There are two areas of stamens: a ring of stamens at the center, and an arrangement of stamens that have been modified into a hood. The fruits are spherical with a woody shell, like a cannonball, and reach up to 10 inches in diameter. One tree can bear 150 fruits.

Although the flowers lack nectar, they are very attractive to bees, which come for the pollen. The flowers produce two types of pollen: fertile pollen from the ring stamens, and sterile pollen from the hood structure. The fruit is edible, but not usually consumed by people because it can have an unpleasant smell. The plant has medicinal uses, it has been used to treat the common cold, stomachache, skin conditions and wounds, malaria, and toothache.

Sand Plovers or Sandpipers?

Feeding Time

These birds were an unexpected find when we went visiting the coastal stretch between Kuala Selangor and Klang, which brought us to Pantai Jeram and Pantai Remis. We planned the visit for low tide towards late afternoon, when we get to go on the beach and explore a bit, check out the teeming coastal animals that thrives within these coastal habitats. Pantai Jeram’s beach is covered in thick mud flats, making it difficult (and messy) to walk on if you do not have wellies with you. Pantai Remis, which is slightly further down south, is much better, and after working our way pass the stone wall wave breaker, we were on the gravel beach.

Just For You, Ken, Got The Shot?

While exploring the beach, we spotted these pod of birds foraging on the reefs at the outer part of the beach. When I got nearer for a closer look and some photography, I realised they were likely migratory birds making their way down south for greener pastures. These are small size birds, with my zoom at maximum focal length, I did my best to fill the frame by getting as close as I can without scaring them away and carefully composing around the reefs. The XF 100-400mm is out, but just too expensive for me to contemplate owning one 😦 at present.

Aha! There Goes One …

Upon doing some research later, it all made sense to me, I learned there are only eight migratory bird flyways in the world, and Kapar (which is quite close to Pantai Remis) is the only site in Malaysia along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. And the birds look like they could be either lesser sand plovers from the Charadriidae family or sandpipers (semipalmated sandpiper, least sandpiper, white rumped sandpiper), I can’t be certain as they look almost the same to my untrained eye. Any bird watcher/enthusiast out there reading this who is in the know, your input is appreciated.

The Finer Art of Flying

My research revealed something very interesting about the reefs too, they are polychaete reefs constructed by the sand-cementing worms, Annelida Polychaeta Sabellariidae, the only one known at present within South-East Asia.

All photos: Fujifilm X-E2 with XF 55-200mm

An Autumn Sonata

An Autumn Sonata

Coming from the part of the tropics where the biggest change in the climate is from warm humid sunny days to wet rainy days; I have learned to appreciate the four seasons ever since I experienced it when I went abroad to further my studies years ago. My first fall and winter experiences are snatches of memories I will cherish forever … It was cold and drizzling rather heavily as I walked the Takachiho (Southern Japan) woods (around the gorge area) on an early Dec morning last year. Along the way, I noted among the woods this stark Japanese maple with its network of sprawling branches and vestige of autumnal ‘red’ leaves clinging to it before winter arrives. It just looked beautiful, the heavy drizzle wetting the tree and soft diffused light nicely highlighted the stark mouldy branch structures of the bare tree, enhancing its mood and interest, befitting an autumn sonata. I took a number of shots while juggling an umbrella to keep my gear dry, when I had time for a good look at the images later, I was pleasantly surprised by the added painterly quality to the images from the drizzle. Nature never cease to amaze me with its  inherent beauty and colour during the change of the seasons.

Photo: Fujifilm X-E2 with XF 55-200mm