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IUCN: not evaluated
Family: BIGNONIACEAE Genus: Crescentia Species: cujete Species Author: L. Vernacular: Calabash Tree; La'amia
Calabash is an evergreen tropical tree 25-40 feet high, with spreading branches and broad head. It has a rough bark and simple leaves. Calabash Tree has cauliflorus flowers that appear directly from nodes on the trunk and branches. The flowers are 2 inches long with yellowish corolla with red or purple veins. Calabash produces very large green smooth fruit resembling a gourd that have a hard thin shell. The fruits are large, globulose up to 12 to 14 inches in diameter. Inside there is a pulp that has medicinal applications. The flat seeds are small and embedded in the pulp. Fruits take about six months to ripen.
(Gilman, Edward F. 1993. Fact Sheet. Florida Cooperative Extension Service. University of Florida.)
In Suriname's traditional medicine, the fruit pulp is used for respiratory problems such as asthma.
Reaching the size of a large melon, the shell of the Calabash fruit is used for containers, scoops, cups, crafts, and artwork. The dried fruits are often used for ornamental purposes.
When canoeing, people will use it to bail out water and scoop up a fresh drink as needed. The wood is very hard and stiff.
Small branches are fashioned into sticks for use in disciplining children. The stiff wood delivers painful blows to the body and wicked raps across the knuckles. The dried fruits are widely used as utensils and are used to make musical instruments called maracas, a Cuban instrument made of a gourd filled with seeds or beads that rattles when shaken. Maracas are usually played in pairs.
(Information for this species compiled and recorded by Camelia Cirnaru, NTBG Consultant.)
Calabash Tree comes from Central America.
The fruits of Calabash develop after pollination by bats. The flowers bloom at night and are formed on the trunk and large lower branches (a condition termed cauliflor) as an adaptation to be pollinated by bats during the night. This way the bats will not encounter difficulty navigating through foliage.
We currently have 7 herbarium specimens for Crescentia cujete in our collection. Click on any specimen below to view the herbarium sheet data.