Characteristics of Lantern Tree (Hernandia nymphaeifolia) in the Wild

Hernandia nymphaeifolia
Lantern tree (Hernandia nymphaeifolia) is a type of tree that often grows in coastal forests. Known as the Lantern tree, referring to the shape of the fruit, which is like a Chinese lantern.

In Indonesia, this tree is known as Kampis, Kampis Cina, Binong Laut, or Bengkak.

Lantern trees are widespread in the tropics but are limited to coastal environments such as coastal forests or coastal swamps along with Sea Hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus) trees.

It is one of the most common beach trees in New Ireland.

 

Characteristics of Lantern Tree Leaf

Hernandia nymphaeifolia Leaf
Source: inaturalist.org/lily2020

Single leaf, long-stemmed, and without a supporting leaf. The leaves are shield-shaped (peltate), oval, measuring 12-33 × 9-28 cm, flat-edged, pointed, glabrous, and smooth.

 

Characteristics of Lantern Tree Flower

Hernandia nymphaeifolia Flower
Source: inaturalist.org/amir1987

The flowers are unisexual, unisexual, clustered in flat panicles that are 20-30 cm long, and hairy. The tip of the stalk with a 4-leaf bandage protects 3 flowers, the middle is a female with a very short stalk, flanked by 2 male flowers with stems. The petals are 7-8 mm long, blunt, white, usually 6 in male flowers and 8 in female flowers.

This tree flowers around March, and bears fruit from June to July.

The flowers are used to treat asthma in Waya Island, Fiji.

 

Characteristics of Lantern Tree Fruit

Hernandia nymphaeifolia Fruit
Source: inaturalist.org/peterzika

The fruit is elongated, dry, single-seeded, with an inflated fruit wrapper, 4 cm in diameter, and at the end open.

The seeds contain 51% thick fatty oil and contain alkaloids.

 

Characteristics of a Lantern Tree

Hernandia nymphaeifolia Tree
Source: inaturalist.org/pl_stenger

Lantern trees can grow into medium-sized trees up to 20 meters high and trunk up to 60 cm.

The wood is light and less durable. Residents of islands in the south Pacific use it for light tools such as wooden oaks, fan handles, blackboards, accessories, net buoys, and others.

 

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