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Suicide Tree

Common name for a small to medium-sized tree, with the botanical name Cerbera odollam, and of which the potent poison in the fruits can be used to commit suicide. It has a dark foliage and showy fragrant white flowers (fig.), similar to the frangipani. The fruits are round to elliptical and initially speckled green (fig.), somewhat resembling passionfruits (fig.), though turn orangey-reddish as they ripen (fig.), rather resembling apricots or peaches (fig.). It has a thin skin, which —after falling— soon decomposes, exposing the fibrous woody tissue that surrounds the core of the seed. This kernel is initially white in colour, though on exposure to air, eventually turns blackish. The size  of the fibrous shell is a little larger than that of a tennis ball and its looks at first glimpse or from a distance similar to a small coconut. The tree thrives near water and a bright green plant sprouts from a crosswise fissure in the seed. The fibrous shell (fig.), that surrounds the kernel and that are referred to as pong pong  seeds are used decoratively, especially in flower arrangements but also in interior design, as are the plants, which are popular ornamental trees. In Thai, the fruits are known as look tihn pet nahm, which literally means water-duck-feet-seed, and which is often abbreviated to look tihn pet.