The Naval is endemic to the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. It is a medium sized tree with a vigorous framework of branches. It typically grows to 8 to 10 m but can grow up to 24 m in height. Most trees have a clear trunk up to one fifth of the tree height which is greyish-brown in colour. It has an extensive framework of branches that have regular fork following the formation of terminal flower clusters. The ‘flowers’ are part of a long hanging spike with over 100 densely packed flower buds, arranged in a spiral pattern. Almost every part of the plant has a traditional use.
Leaves are large, simple, lanceolate (pointed at both ends) and are arranged clusters at the ends of the branches. The leaf size varies but is typically 21 to 66 cm long and 5 to 25 cm wide. The upper surface is a glossy dark green and the lower surface is slightly paler. The margins are undulated. Leaf veins are prominent and have a pattern of interlacing lines forming a net or web.
A 30 to 110 cm long dangling spike contains up to 150 densely packed flower buds, arranged in spirally alternate pattern. The flowers varying in colour from green to white or red.
The fruits are berry-like with short dense hairs. They are elongated, oblong to egg-shaped that taper towards the apex and base. They start as greyish-green and become reddish or purplish as they ripen. The typical length of a mature fruit is 25 – 99 mm. Fruits in Vanuatu are longer and more cylindrical than those in the Solomon Islands.
When to Look
Where to Look
Barringtonia edulis, very similar to B. procera (also known as Cutnut). However, B. procera has glossy leaves, very short to leaf stems and short to no individual flower stalks. Barringtonia novae-hiberniae (Pao Nut) has simple, near-entire leaves. However, there is much overlap between the first two species.