(Presl.) Kubitzki 1970
Hernandia nymphaeifolia is a tree with 5–22 m high. The leaves are narrowly or broadly ovate or subcircular. The 5-9 veins are palmate. The flowers are white or greenish, hermaphrodite, with fragant odour; male and female are separated. The fruit is fleshy, waxy red or white.
Distribution and Ecology
This species occurs throughout the tropics (Duyfjes 1996) exclusively in coastal areas: along the sea-shore in littoral forest and in coastal swamps. Fujita (1991) lists H.nymphaeifolia as being seed dispersed by the Marianas flying fox in the Mariana Islands.
H. nymphaeifolia has a light, perishable wood. It has been used in South Pacific islands for fishing rods, fish net floats, wooden sandals, fan handles, drawing boards, canoe accessories, furniture and firewood, etc. A woody layer surrounds the seed of the lantern tree fruit. The Tahaitians polish the round brown seeds to a high gloss and fashion them into necklaces. The Marshallese bathe children in a healing bath made from H. nymphaeifolia leaves and relieve headaches with a preparation from other tree parts. The effect of lignanes from this species on Ca2+ signaling in human neutrophils has been studied.
- Bhavatu Sabba Mangalam