Sunday, 18 January 2009

morning walk

Walking through the rainforest on a cool Sunday morning brings a quiet sort of joy.
On our path a javillo tree (hura crepitans) had dropped a branch and we scrambled gingerly across. The javillo is covered with sharp thorns laden with poison: if touched the thorns will readily spray their toxic juice - enough to hurt for a few hours. The indigenous people would tap the sap, much like tapping a maple, fixing a calabash gourd to catch the flow. They would pour the sap into rivers to stun the fish making them easy to catch. It's a softwood, not much good for lumber, but it can be hollowed out for dug-out canoes.
The English name for the javillo is sandbox tree. In colonial times the Europeans would use the dried fruit of the tree - shaped somewhat like a doughnut with a dimple rather than a hole - to hold sand. They would keep the 'sandbox' on their desks to blot paper. One had to be careful in collecting whole fruits - they disperse their seeds by exploding the shell and scattering the seeds in all directions. This gives the tree its other name - the monkey's dinner bell, for the sound of the pop and scattering seeds like rainfall down through surrounding leaves.
Lying across our path it posed no real threat, but the spikes were still sharp enough to catch skin and cloth. The dogs took a longer route round.

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thanks for sharing!