Wōp (Barringtonia asiatica - Lecythidaceae)

Uses: Wōp is sometimes planted as a windbreak and a wave barrier. It is also used for firewood. The seeds of wōp have been used to catch fish in many places, including the Marshall Islands. The firm white seed can be crushed, mixed with water, and thrown into pools where fish are found. The stunned fish can then easily be caught by hand. This method of stupefying fish does not appear to harm the flesh of the fish. This fish poison use is illegal now. Women use the fruits and leaves of wōp to stop post-partum bleeding. The leaves are pounded with water and applied to boils and other skin irritations

Description: This huge, thick-trunked, native coastal tree has large, glossy leaves 10-60 cm (4-24 in) long and attractive white flowers. It can grow to heights of 20 m (65 ft). The fibrous fruit contain a single seed and are buoyant. After maturing on the tree the fruit drop off and float out to sea, carried on the tides. They drift along with the currents, and may eventually wash up on the shores of many tropical Pacific islands, where the seeds may sprout.

Distribution: Wōp has spread itself in the manner just described from Madagascar to Eastern Polynesia, including all major island groups of Micronesia. Since wōp is a useful tree, it is possible that humans have introduced it to some islands.

Main Plants


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