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Lapit-usâ: Testicle tree

Testicle tree

Odd looking fruits of Lapit-usa

Lapit-usa flower

Demure and virginal white flower of Lapit-usa

Matured Lapit-usa fruit

Matured Lapit-usa fruits

I don’t intend to be rude but this is exactly how the plant got its name: from the word– bayag (Tagalog) or lapit (Bikol) which roughly translate to testicles or balls (bayag) and penis (lapit). In short the name alludes to  the male reproductive anatomy. Hence the name, Lapit-usa.

And  for those who are looking for a unique looking plant to grace their garden, this is the species I will definitely recommend. Although it is wild, it can be spotted along the roads of several mountain villages of Bulusan (this one, above photo, is from Barangay San Jose Lower). With fruits shaped like that (photo) I am sure it will start a conversation rolling for your visitors and friends. A look into the fruits will tell you why. It is visually obvious. It explains itself.

The fruit closely resembles  a pair of mammalian testicles, alright. In Bulusan, the locals call it as Lapit-usa. In the tagalog speaking areas it is however called Bayag-usa.  As to why the deer’s specifically, I don’t know the reason. I haven’t seen one – the deer’s.

For sure it is a Voacanga species probably Voacanga globosa as counterchecked and matched from several references . It is endemic and still widely distributed in the Philippines.

Its flowers are dainty and virginal white. It look so pure and demure in contrast to the irreverently ‘exhibitionist’ fruits. Nevertheless, these make the tree more adorable and will surely make you smile. Honestly, I find it clever and with a sense of humor for a tree to evolve that way.

Photographs by Alma P. Gamil in Barangay San Jose, Bulusan, Sorsogon  Philippines

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2 thoughts on “Lapit-usâ: Testicle tree

  1. Hi Jane,

    Awat ko na tabi nabati an kahoy na lapit-usa. Salamat tabi sini na post mo, kay naimod ko na. Ugaring, malin misnomer ini, kay an object ngay’an san ngaran, an pagkahawig san bunga sa testicle, na sa dialect, itlog?

    > >

    • Nareparo ko man ngani…pero mao talaga an pagkangaran sini sa ato. Puede man kunta bunay-bunay 🙂 Maybe because for ease of name recall….or maybe because the whole anatomy includes the balls and the penis taken as one. But these common names: lapit-usa (Bikol)and bayag-usa (Tagalog)will stay in usage because it is folkloric in nature. Kinaandan as we say in Bulusan. On close examination however…again of my other photos…the Bulusan common name makes sense since the shape of the flower buds is elongated. But I guess these buds are way too small for a deer’s penis.

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