Bryant is the author of today’s entry. He writes:
Thank you to 3point141@Flickr for this striking image of Pachira aquatica. Like all members of its former family, the Bombacaceae, Pachira aquatica was recently re-assigned to the Malvaceae, which currently consists of roughly 240 genera. Pachira aquatica‘s native range extends from southern Mexico to northern South America.
Though it is not shown in this photograph, plants have palmate leaves divided into 5-11 leaflets. The flower in this photograph, though, does show the many stamens. Here, I estimate somewhere near two hundred stamens (some members of the genus are reported to have a thousand stamens). You may note the stamens are organized into ten clusters–these are called staminal tubes.
Pachira aquatica is now commonly cultivated outside its native range, both as an ornamental and for its seed, an edible nut said to taste similar to a peanut. Due to its variety of uses, it has accrued a number of common names including: malabar chestnut, money tree, Guiana chestnut, and provision tree. In Chinese culture, Pachira aquatica is widely considered a good luck charm that brings good fortune, making it a common gift for many occasions. In temperate climates, plants are often grown indoors as foliage plants or as “bonsai” with braided trunks. Pachira aquatica is now a significant economic crop in Taiwan, where plants are exported as saplings to markets around the world.
I have passed by this plant countless times in corner stores without a second glance, having never seen them in flower. I was blown away to see what they produce!