Hura crepitans

Sand box tree

 

                                                                              

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Family

 

EUPHORBIACEAE

 

Origin

 

Tropical America

 

Description

 

 

Sandbox tree is a tropical tree that reaches a height of 90 to 130 feet, with a spiny trunk and spreading branches.

Tree has beautiful seed pods that look like tangerines made out of wood. When the seed pods are perfectly ripe, the individual segments, which are the separate seeds, burst apart making a sharp cracking sound like a pistol being fired.

The long-stemmed, leaves are papery thin, heart-shaped and up to 2 feet long. It has red flowers.

Blooming from january to July.

 

Habitat

 

Cultivated or sandy or swampy coastline (Altitude 0-50m)

 

Propagation

Seeds

 

Culture and care

 

It likes partial to full sun, moist soil, sandy or loam. 

Can resist up to 12ºF

Use

 

Toxicity

 

Toxic latex

 

- Ornemental use

 

 

Very nice tree. Can be planted as a single plant.

 

- Other uses

 

 

Handcraft, sand-box. The wood is used locally in light construction, and for dugouts.

Burning wood repels insects.

 

Etymology

 

 

The Hura name comes from the Arawak and crepitans, creaking, rattling, present participle of crepo, crepare, crepui, crepitum (as 

the seeds in the pod of the sandbox tree, Hura crepitans)

 

Ethnology

 

 

The plant secretes a yellowish milky juice used by Amerindians to poison darts, fishing and treat snake bites.

 

Anecdotes

 

 

This pumpkins shape fruit was once used for holding fine dry sand used for blotting ink before the introduction of blotting paper, hence the common name "sand box tree.”

 

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