Today’s entry is written by Claire. The plate is from the book Flora de Filipinas, Gran edicion, Atlas I. by Francisco Blanco, a Spanish friar and botanist.
Oroxylum indicum of the Bignoniaceae, or trumpet creeper family, is our pick for today’s Hallowe’en entry as it has some intriguing, spooky characteristics. Three of its many common names are midnight horror, broken bones tree, and tree of Damocles. The names are due to its lengthy seed pods which range from 40 to 120cm long (1.3 – 4ft). Hanging off the tree in clusters, when dry they rattle in the wind (perhaps like a clattering skeleton?). Fallen seeds piled at the base are also said to resemble a pile of broken bones. Lastly, for those readers who associate bats with Hallowe’en, Oroxylum indicum has a chiropterophilous pollination mechanism (e.g., large flowers that open at night with a wide mouth). One known pollinating species is Eonycteris spelaea, the cave nectar bat. Quite the spine-chilling tree!
Oroxylum indicum is native to deciduous, moist forests of tropical and subtropical south and southeast Asia, including India and China. It is a well-known medicinal plant, with all parts of the plant being used in some way. Oroxylum indicum continues to be commonly utilized and harvested for traditional medicine, as well as being investigated for pharmacological use in the production of treatments for virus-inhibition and anti-inflammatories.