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Crescentia alata - Jicaro


Native to:



Central America.

Dry and wet plains, hill sides. Up to 1200 meters above sea level. Tree up to 10 meters tall.

Crescentia alata - Jicaro

Ecological value:

Ruderal species. Source of food for wildlife and humans. Attracts pollinators including bats, drought tolerant. Used to provide shade in agroforestry schemes, enriching the soil with falling leaves. Also used to stabilize soils with it's extensive root-system.

Material uses:

Fruits have woody shells, used for cups and containers. Shells used for cups and containers but are not as durable as those from C. cujete. The wood is light brown and hard and used for making objects such as wagons.

Edible uses:

Licorice flavored pulp in center of fruits used for drinks, there is also oil in the fruits. High in protein.

Medicinal use:

Used as an astringent and anti hemorrhagic, treats dysentery.

Other details:

A theory suggests that extinct gomphotheres, might have been responsible for original distribution of C. alata seeds. Today, domestic horses smash the fruit and eat fruit inside, helping to spread the tree to pastures and fields, keeping the species viable.


Marian Farrell/Christine Facella


“Crescentia Alata Kunth | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science.” n.d. Plants of the World Online. Accessed November 27, 2023.
“Crescentia Alata - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d. Accessed November 7, 2023.
‌Uphof. J. C. Th., ‘Dictionary of Economic Plants’, Weinheim, 1959
Janzen, Daniel H., and Paul S. Martin. 1982. “Neotropical Anachronisms: The Fruits the Gomphotheres Ate.” Science 215 (4528): 19–27.
Image source: Jayesh Patil.

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