This is a medium to large sized tree species which can grow up to 20 metres high, wide-spreading with both erect and horizontal branching. The main trunk is short, with brown fissured bark and the branches are very long with sparse foliage. Younger trees tend to have a neater, rounded crown.
The leaves are simple, long, petiolate with a wavy margin. The flowers are fleshy, pink and arranged in loose bunches. Fruits are large capsules, woody, opening by a lid and looking like a pot. Monkeys in South America are known to put their hands into the pot to get to the rich seeds, hence the common name, Monkey Pot. The seeds are oval, with many ridges and grooves on the surface. The endosperm is rich with oil. This species originated from Brazil and Venezuela.
The fruits are unusual and botanically very interesting. It is the seeds' rich in oil property that brought the plant to Singapore as an experimental economic plant. Known in South America as Sapucaia nuts, they have a thicker but less firm shell than Brazil nuts, and a somewhat better flavour. The oil expressed from them is clear in colour, nearly white, tasteless and rapidly becomes rancid. It is used in Brazil for making white soap and burnt as a source of light. Seeds were received from Kew on 28 Sept 1926 and planted on 24 Feb 1928. The Lecythis pisonis Heritage Tree, located at Lawn E seldom fruits. In comparison, these two Trees next to each other at Lawn H are always in fruit.
This tree is dedicated to HPL.