Fish Poison Tree (Vutu) Featured in
Fish Poison Tree or Sea Poison Tree is scientifically named as Barringtonia Asiatica and locally known as Vutu. It's an evergreen tree that grows among the mangroves along the sandy coastline of Fiji. The tree is rather tall and has large 30-centimetre fleshy leaves. Vutu has very beautiful flowers: four white petals surround a plurality of long pinkish stamens, making the flower look like a large pompom. At noon the flower buds begin to slightly open, at sunset they extend a strong, rather heavy, unforgettable aroma. The next day the flowers fall and one can see a few pretty blossoms scattered along the sandy shorelines.
Bats and large moths pollinate the flowers attracted by its intense flavour. After flowering, the plant produces a 11 cm fibrous inedible fruit. Due to its specific shape, it's called Box fruit. The seeds provide poison (saponin concentration) traditionally applied in fishing. they are dried and triturated to prepare the famous poison. Besides, the fruit is widely used in folk medicine—it facilitates rheumatic pain, expels tapeworms, lice, and other parasites.
Although the blooming season is nearly all year round, the fruit harvest peaks between November and January.
When can one visit Fiji to witness Vutu's blooming season?
Vutu blooms all year round, with the best time to witness the Fish Poison Tree's blooming season being between November and January. The pinkish-white blossoms, which release a strong aroma during sunset, open slightly at noon, and their fruit harvest peak is between November and January. Show more
Where is Vutu found in Fiji?
Coastal areas of Fiji contain the Fish Poison Trees, also known as Vutu. These tall, evergreen trees grow in sandy coastlines in the South Pacific region, specifically along the shoreline among the coastal mangroves. You can locate many Vutu trees in Suva, Nadi, and Lautoka. Show more
Which animals are known to pollinate Vutu blossoms?
Bats and large moths pollinate the Vutu or Fish Poison Tree blossoms. The pollinators are attracted by the sweet fragrance, and as they feed on the nectar, they transfer pollen from one flower to the next, resulting in pollination. The Vutu blooms possess four white petals encircling the long pink stamens, creating a contrast that attracts pollinators. Show more
What is the process of extracting poison from the Fish Poison Tree fruit?
After drying and crushing the Fish Poison Tree fruit, the saponin in the seeds is made into poison to use for fishing. Adding the resultant mixture to water causes the fish to become paralyzed and eventually float to the surface, making them easier to collect. The fish are disorientated and paralyzed due to the saponin concentration, which can cause death in severe cases. Show more
Which traditional uses are associated with the Fish Poison Tree in Fiji, besides fishing?
Fijians associate various traditional uses with the Fish Poison Tree besides fishing. It's fruit helps expel parasites, while the leaves ease rheumatic pain. The tree bark contains compounds useful in treating wounds, skin infections, and other skin diseases. The bark is boiled and used as facial wash to treat acne and eczema. Show more