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Herrania balaensis seeds

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Herrania balaensis seeds
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Seltene Herrania balaensis seeds

 

Herrania balaensis has its home in the lowland rainforests in Ecuador. There the plant occurs up to 500 meter above sea level. Its habitat gets smaller and smaller through deforestation and increased colonization of the rainforest. Since 2010 it is listed in the Red list as endangered species. Herrania balaensis is an extraoridinary plant. It grows as a tree and reaches a height of 3 to 6 m. The trunk is only 15 cm in diameter. Herrania balaensis has an erect growth with less branching. The heartwood of Herrania balaensis is pinkish. It is not used for building. It is really soft and would decompose too fast. The leaves of Herrania balaensis are lobate with a long petiole and deep green.

The pinkish to red actinomorphic flowers grow directly at the trunk (cauliflory). This cauliflory has the advantage that small branches do not break under the weight of the heavy following fruits. The flowers are mostly clustered in groups at the base of the trunk. The most beautiful parts of the flowers are the long stamens that hang beautifully down from the center of the flower. Due to the fact that mostly several flowers are blooming side by side it generates a wonderful curtain made of stamens. The bud of the flower is pubescent. It is possible that a single individual bears fruits and flowers at the same time. The fruit is ovoid and gets 14 cm long. The natives eat the sweet, white pulp that surrounds the seeds. Herranian balaensis is also known as monkey cacao. That is because the fruits look quite similar to those of the cacao tree. Herranias balaensis is hardly cultivated in Ecuador. But nevertheless farmer tolerate the monkey cacao that grows wild on their fields and harvest the sweet fruits.

The seeds contain more than 50% of oil. The seed should soak in warm water for just 2 to 3 hours before planting. Afterwards they can be planted into the moist substrate. At a tropical surrounding temperature of about 28°C germination occurs quickly after just 1 to 3 weeks. The monkey cacao prefers slightly acid substrate.

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