Helicopter Tree, Gyrocarpus americanus

Gyrocarpus americanus is a flowering plant species. The species may also be commonly referred to as the Helicopter Tree, the Propeller Tree, the Whirly Whirly Tree, the Stinkwood or the Shitwood. G. americanus belongs to the Hernandiaceae family. This species has eight subspecies currently recognized.

Gyrocarpus americanus plants grow up to 39 feet tall and it is fairly slender in diameter. The tree’s bark is grey in color and has a smooth texture. The plant produces ovate, lobed leaves that grow around six inches long and five inches wide. On the surface its leaf is dark green and smooth, its underside is a lighter green shade and has a velvety texture. Flowers are developed and bloom in compact heads. The flowers give off a very foul odor and can be yellow or greenish in color. G. americanus produces a winged fruit that may also have an unpleasant odor. Its fruit is a woody nut and its wings are helpful for seed dispersal.

Image Caption: Helicopter Tree (Gyrocarpus americanus). Credit: Mark Marathon/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)