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18th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest Natural World
Blister Pod (Sacoglottis amazonica)

This tree is native throughout the north of South America, as the species name suggests. It occurs most commonly in the lower reaches of the Amazon River. It is one of the tiny proportion of plant species that produce drift fruit: fruit adapted for long-distance seed dispersal by salt water. Drift fruit can even cross the Atlantic on the Gulf Stream. The soft outer layer of each Sacoglottis amazonica fruit decomposes to leave a hard stone. The bumps all over the stone are the outer surfaces of the air-filled cavities (‘blisters’) that provide it with buoyancy. The interiors of these cavities become exposed as the pod is eroded by seawater over months, and sometimes years, of drifting.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 02.2020
Date Uploaded: 08.2020
Photo Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Camera: NIKON D850
Copyright: © Levon Biss