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Crescentia cujete - Calabaso


Native to:



Central and northern South America.

Dry but seasonally wet plains and hillsides. Up to 1370 meters above sea level. Up to 10 meters tall.

Crescentia cujete - Calabaso

Ecological value:

Attracts wildlife, pollinated by bats. Slow growth rate, drought tolerant. Attracts stinging ants, which ward off browsers such as goats. Provides habitat for epiphytes (bromeliads and orchids common sight). Prefers fertile soil and full sun.

Material uses:

Empty fruit bowls are used as drinking vessels, cups, rattlers, instruments.
Wood, light brown, moderately hard and strong, but not durable. Used for general construction, tool handles, building carts and other wood products. Wood also used to grow epiphytes.

Edible uses:

Fruits called Jicara are used for drinks, raw pulp and seeds are poisonous. Fruits can
be eaten but pulp and seeds must be cooked beforehand. Roasted seed as coffee substitute.

Medicinal use:

Treats colds, kidney diseases, anti-hemorrhagic, helps menstrual cramps.

Other details:

Grown in live fences. Crescentia cujete belongs to a genus of six species in the Americas, including C. alata, C. amazonica, C. linearifolia, C. mirabilis, C. cujete and C. portoricensis. Crescentia portoricensis is native to Puerto Rico and is endangered.


Sam Schillinger/Christine Facella


“Crescentia Cujete L. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science.” n.d. Plants of the World Online.
“Crescentia Cujete - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d. Accessed November 7, 2023.
‌Uphof. J. C. Th., ‘Dictionary of Economic Plants’, Weinheim, 1959
“Crescentia — the Plant List.” n.d. Accessed November 27, 2023.
Image source: Mokkie

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