top of page

Genipa americana


Native to:



Central and southern Central America, the Caribbean, northern and central South America.

Fields, forest margins, flooded areas. 0-1850 meters above sea level. 20 meters tall.

Genipa americana

Ecological value:

The tree grows very quickly (fruits in 3 years). Source of food for wildlife. Attracts hummingbirds, bats, bees. Heavy leaf-fall improves surrounding soil. Grown as a live fence in grazing areas. Prefers moist, lowland soils but can withstand up to 6 months of dry periods.

Material uses:

Contains tannins, a blue-black dye from the fruit’s pulp, used for dying clothes and pottery. Fiber from bark to make rough clothing. Wood hard and strong, not durable- prone to termites. Used for light construction, furniture, tool handles, cabinetwork, ship building etc.

Edible uses:

Produces a sweet fruit, which can be made into drinks, jelly etc. Seed contains caffeine.

Medicinal use:

Known for curing candiru (fish) attacks, while the juice of the fruit is known to have helpful astringent effects. Brewed into tea as a remedy for bronchitis.

Other details:

Fruit juice stains the skin black, so natives used to use it for going into battle and for decoration purposes. Tree can be inter-cropped with cassava or cotton as shade tree. Wood can be used for fuel. Ornamental. Begins to flower around 3-5 years of age.


Zac Pepere/Christine Facella


“Genipa Americana L. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science.” n.d. Plants of the World Online. Accessed November 26, 2023.
“Genipa Americana - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d. Accessed November 8, 2023.
‌Barwick. M., ‘Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide’, Thames & Hudson, London, 2004
Uphof. J. C. Th., ‘Dictionary of Economic Plants’, Weinheim, 1959
Lorenzi. H., ‘Brazilian Trees. Volume 2. 4th Edition’, Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil, 2002
Image source: João Medeiros

bottom of page