Botanical Name : Crescentia cujete
Species: C. cujete
Common Name : Calabash Tree,It is also known as Ayale (English), Calabacero (Spain), Totumo (Panama and Venezuela), Cujete (Spain, Philippines), Miracle Fruit (Philippines).
Habitat :Tropical America – Colombia north through Central America to Mexico and most of the Caribbean.The plant grows on coastal scrub, dry lowlands in clearings. Roadsides, old pastures, thickets and woodland margins at elevations from sea level to 420 metres in Jamaica.
Crescentia cujete is naturalized in India.
Crescentia cujete is a small tree growing to a height of 4 to 5 meters with arching branches and close-set clusters of leaves. Leaves are alternate, often fascicled at the nodes, oblanceolate, 5 – 17 cm long, glossy at the upper surface, blunt at the tip and narrowed at the base. Flowers develop from the buds that grow from the main trunk, yellowish and sometimes veined with purple, with a slightly foetid odor, occuring singly or in pairs at the leaf axils, stalked and about 6 cm long, and opens in the evening. The fruit is short-stemmed, rounded, oval or oblong, green or purplish, 15 to 20 cm in diameter.
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Usuable parts: Fruits,bark & leaves
The young fruit is occasionally pickled.Considered the equal of pickled walnuts. The seed can be eaten when cooked. It is also used to make a beverage. A syrup and a popular confection called ‘carabobo’ is made from the seed. To make the syrup, the seeds are ground finely, mixed with sugar and a little water then boiled.
The roasted seeds, combined with roasted wheat, are used as an aromatic and flavourful coffee substitute.
The leaves are sometimes cooked in soups.
Properties and constituents:
* Phytochemical studies of the fresh fruit pulp reports the presence of crescentic acid, tartaric acid, citric, and tannic acids, two resins and a coloring matter than resembles indigo.
* Studies yielded tartaric acid, cianhidric acid, citric acid, crescentic acid, tannins, beta-sitosterol, estigmasterol, alpha and beta amirina, estearic acid, palmitic acid.
* Study yielded flavonoids quercetin, apigenin with antiinflammatory, antihemorrahgic and anti-platelet aggregation activities.
* Fruit considered aperient, laxative, expectorant.
* Considered anthelmintic, analgesic, antiinflammatory, febrifuge, laxative.
* Phytochemical study of the fruit yielded eight new compounds, along with four known compounds, acanthoside D, ß-D-glucopransoyl benzoate, (R)-1-0-ß-glucopyranosyl-1,3-octanediol.
Uses include the seed as an abortive and the roasted fruit pulp was eaten to force menses, birth, and afterbirth. Consequently, it is best not to consume this plant while pregnant. The pulp was also used as a purgative and in Barbados for abortions when boiled with leaves of Swietenia spp. and Petiveria alliacea. The mixture, however, causes nausea, diarrhea and poisoning. Dried bark shows in vitro antibacterial activity against Bacillus subtilis, Psuedomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcos aureus and Escherichia coli. In Suriname’s traditional medicine, the fruit pulp is used for respiratory problems (asthma).
* In India, used as a pectoral, the poulticed pulp applied to the chest.
* In the West Indies, syrup prepared from the pulp used for dysentery and as pectoral.
* In Rio de Janeiro, the alcoholic extract of the not-quite ripe fruit used to relieve constipation
* For erysipelas, the fresh pulp is boiled in water to form a black paste, mixed and boiled with vinegar, spread on linen for dermatologic application.
* The bark is used for mucoid diarrhea.
* Fruit pulp used as laxative and expectorant.
* In the Antilles and Western Africa, fruit pulp macerated in water is considered depurative, cooling and febrifuge, and applied to burns and headaches.
* In West Africa, fruit roasted in ashes is purgative and diuretic.
* In Sumatra, bark decoction used to clean wounds and pounded leaves used as poultice for headaches.
* Internally, leaves used as diuretic.
* In the Antilles, fresh tops and leaves are ground and used as topicals for wounds and as cicatrizant.
* In Venezuela, decoction of bark used for diarrhea. Also, used to treat hematomas and tumors.
* In Costa Rica, used as purgative.
* In Cote-d’Ivoire, used for hypertension because of its diuretic effect.
* In Columbia, used for respiratory afflictions.
* In Vietnam, used as expectorant, antitussive, laxative and stomachic.
* In Haiti, the fruit of Crescentia cujete is part of the herbal mixtures reported in its traditional medicine. In the province of Camaguey in Cuba, is considered a panacea.
* In Panama, where it is called totumo, the fruit is used for diarrhea and stomachaches. Also for respiratory ailments, bronchitis, cough, colds, toothaches. headaches, menstrual irregularities; as laxative, antiinflammatory, febrifuge. The leaves are used for hypertension.
* In some countries, the dried shell of the fruit is used to make bowls and fruit containers, decorated with paintings or carvings.
* Used in making maracas or musical rattle..
* In Brazil, the fibrous lining of the fruit is sometimes used as a substitute for cigarette paper.
* A favorite perch for orchids.
(1) Previous studies have yielded naphthoquinones and iridoid glucosides. The fruits yielded 15 new compounds, 3 iridoid glucosides, five iridoids, 3 2,4-pentanediol glycosides, along with known compounds.
(2) Study fruit constituents yielded 16 iridoids and iridoid glucosides,
* Nutritive and Anti-Nutritive Composition of Calabash Fruit: Pulp was found to have high mineral concentrations; sodium, highest; calcium, lowest, with high values of thiamine and found to be free from HCN toxicity and suggests useful contributions to human health and nutrition.
* Bioactive Furanonaphthoquinones : Study isolated new and known bioactive compounds showing selective activity toward DNA-repair-deficient yeast mutants.
* Antibacterial: In a study of extracts against E. coli and S. aureus, Crescentia cujete showed activity against S. aureus.
* Snake Venom Neutralizing Effect: In a study of t5 plant extracts used by traditional healers in Colombia for snakebites, 31 had moderate to high neutralizing ability against the hemorrhagic effect of Bothrops atrox venom. C cujete (unripe fruits) was one of 19 that showed moderate neutralization.
* Antidiabetic: In a non experimental validation for antidiabetic activity, study yields cyanhidric acid believed to stimulate insulin release.
The plant produces subglobose hard-shelled fruits about 15 – 30cm long. Local people constrict the growth of these fruits by tying strings around them and, by so doing, fashion them into a variety of shapes. These can then be used as rattles, bowls, cups, containers etc, in much the same way as bottle gourds are used.
The most general use of the shells is for making drinking vessels, but the larger ones serve to store all sorts of articles. Sections of the oblong forms are much used in place of spoons. Many of the jicaras, as the cups made from the shells are called, are handsomely decorated in colours or by incised designs. The hard, smooth shells polish well and are finely carved for ritual use in some parts of Africa.
The wood is light brown or yellowish brown, with fine veining of darker colour, without distinctive taste or odour; moderately hard and heavy, tough and strong, coarse-textured, fairly easy to work, takes a smooth finish; but is probably not durable. It is used for ox yokes, tool handles, and vehicle parts. and is sometimes used in construction.
Thick crooked limbs often are used in Guatemala for making saddle trees.
The wood has been used from Colonial times to the present to make stirrups – some of those of the colonial period are beautifully carved and are real objects of art. The wood is easy to carve when still green but when thoroughly seasoned is ‘like iron’ and some have perhaps been in use for ‘hundreds’ of years.
The wood is also used for fuel
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.