Barringtonia, box fruit, or queen of the shore, is native to the shores of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, where it forms coastal forests. It was introduced to Puerto Rico in the 1920s but has not gained much favor as an ornamental. In its native distribution it reaches a height of 80 feet, with a trunk 2 or more feet in diameter. The leaves are up to 1.5 feet long and are grouped toward the end of the branches. Flowers are about 6 inches wide, open at night and produce an aroma that attracts moths and bats; the group of stamens falls to the ground in the early morning. Fruits are up to 4 inches long and contain air spaces that allow them to disperse with the sea currents; these were among the first seeds to arrive at Krakatoa Island after the volcanic eruption of 1883. It flowers and produces fruits irregularly throughout the year. The generic name honors the English naturalist Daines Barrington (1727-1800). The species name refers to its geographic origin.

The photographed tree is east of the Celis Building and is the only member of the species in the campus. It was planted by Henry Cowles and  Severo Vélez, probably during the 1930s.

Barringtonia asiatica (Lecythidiaceae)