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The Cannonball Tree

Amoeba O’Ceallaigh and I were talking tonight after dinner. I told him I am very prudent and very practical. He appeared to be quite stunned by that news. I asked him to explain. Instead, he replied, “You bent over in the middle of the road today to take a photograph and a pickup almost side -swiped your butt!” Don’t you just hate it when men do that? There you are talking about one thing and they go and change the subject to another?

Anyway, onto the post you’ve been waiting for … The Cannonball Tree:

There are many wondrous and amazing plants at Foster’s Botanical Garden, and I am certain that while I oogled one, I missed seeing two or three others. I know that has to be true of the Cannonball Tree, because the moment I saw it I lost all concept of place or time. All that mattered was me, tree and camera.

The flower is the first thing that caught my eye. I had never seen anything like it. As far as I can tell it didn’t have a scent, or the scent was too light to compete with the Magnolia Blossom.

Cannon Ball Tree Blossom
Cannonball Tree Blossom

Almost immediately I was frustrated. The tree was in the direct sunlight and my photo quality was nil. To top it off, I couldn’t get close enough to the dang thing. The chain-link fence around it encompassed much more space than most of the tree protecting barriers.

That irked me. I had no intention of harming the tree. I just wanted a few photos. I looked right. I looked left. I looked front. I looked back. Then I stepped over the barrier and approached the tree.

Blossom & Buds
Blossom & Buds

Most of the flowers were over my head. The tree stood next to a lovely garden wall fashioned from lava rock. I climbed up on the wall to get the shots I wanted. Being prudent and practical, I looked first for loose rocks or cracks in the mortar.

Blossom & Buds
Blossom & Buds

On the backside of the tree I found a beautiful flower right at face level, and there was no slanting sunlight to screw up my shot. I took photos from near and far, paying close attention to where I put my feet, because coconut-sized nuts covered the ground. A couple of the nuts had broken open. They contained a pulpy fruit that mynah birds apparently love.

Cannonballs on a Cannonball Tree

The typical Cannonball fuit is six to eight inches in diameter. My subconscious related them to coconuts and — while I was snapping photos of them at least, I never gave it much thought — and then:

Warning Sign

I saw the sign and immediately wondered how badly a thump on the head one could get. I reached down to scoop up a cannonball. My hand closed around it … and I dang near fell over. I had to shift my weight and lift the ball. It probably only weighed 3 or 4 pounds, but I expect that to be more than enough to cause a headache. I looked right. I looked left. I looked up. I looked down. Then — proof that I am prudent and practical — I retreated to the safer side of the barrier. Besides, it wasn’t like I needed any more photos anyway.

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. Yup, when I think Quill, the very first thing that pops into my mind is ‘prudent and practical’. Yes indeed, the very first thing. Yup.

  2. *CLAP*CLAP*CLAP*!!! YAY! Bravo! Oh this is soooooooooo the post I’ve been waiting for! YES!!! Oh girl! You and I have just GOTTA get together! We are BOTH prudent and practical I think! (that tree is AWESOME!!!)

  3. and you think following *me* around would be amusing??? peas in a pod, babe, peas in a pod. the difference is that i have never risked *bruising* for a post…

  4. Very nice photo series, I bet, it would be able to split a skull in two if it took direct hit. Didn’t know anything about such a plant existed.

    Also, happy sky watching!

  5. Great shots here and a really fun read! The falling cannonballs remind me of the move Cast Away with Tom Hanks. He hears the falling coconuts and thinks someone, or something, is hiding within the trees. 🙂

  6. Brif — amazing isn’t it?

    Alastair — not surprisingly, it didn’t turn out well.

    Brian — collaboration! Finally!

    Melli — together we may end up dead, but it’ll be fun getting there!

    Holly — together we could be Reckless & Ridiculous.

    S.O. — yes, I suppose a direct hit could kill, hence the wider barrier around the tree. (I never thought they might have put it up to stop the tree from hurting me!)

    Robert — I saw that! Thanks for the reminder and the smile.

    Hello Everyone — we will be out all day. Leave your comment I’ll come back to it as soon as I can, I promise!

  7. what a fun post and great photos! how can one remain prudent and practical when surrounded with such strange plants.

  8. Glad your prudent, practical and safe. The flower is pretty but I would hate to get hit in the head with one of those things.

  9. Being hit by any type of cannonball probably isn’t a good thing 😉

    Loved the photos! I miss the plants of Hawaii.

  10. I love how you are prudent and practical, and reckless at the same time! And even more, I love the pictures you make while being so!

  11. Wonderful tree and beautiful flowers. I’ve never heard of that kind of tree. Another reason they put the fences around trees is that people walk under them and after a while the soil compacts and it is very bad for the tree.
    I learned that little tidbit while watching BBC’s “A Year At Kew”.

    Prudent and practical….glad to hear it. 🙂

  12. I guess I’m a big fan of Schadenfreude because I was waiting for the part of the story where you got clocked by one of the cannon balls.

    Sorry Quilly.

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