Calabash tree (Crescentia cujete, propagated from cuttings)
the fruits are called "miracle fruit" because of its healing properties.
- The pulp of the fruit has medicinal properties and acts as a remedy for respiratory problems such as asthma and cough.
- It contains hydrocyanic acid which is considered as a purgative.
- The syrup prepared from the pulp is used as a medicine for relieving disorders of the chest or respiratory tract and also to cure dysentery and stomach aches.
- The leaves of the Calabash Tree are used to reduce blood pressure.
- The decoction of the tree bark is used to clean wounds and also to treat hema tomas and tum ors.
Calabash Tree is a small evergreen tropical tree which can grow up to a height of 25 feet and produce fruits up to 25 cm in diameter (~10 kilos). It has simple leaves and the bark of the tree is rough. The fruit is large, hard and green in color and takes about six months to ripen. They cannot be eaten but can be used for various ornamental purposes. The fruits are pollinated by bats and they develop from the trunk of the tree. The seeds of the fruit are flat, small and are embedded in the pulp.
The dried shell of the fruit is used to make different musical instruments and ornaments. The shell is decorated with paintings and carvings and used to make cups, dishes and containers.
The hunters disguised themselves by fitting it over their heads with two eyes cut on it so that the gourd floated on top of the water. This helped them to swim right up to a bird and catch it. Instruments like maracas and guiro were also made from the shell of the fruit.
The wood of the tree which is hard is used to make tools and handles and the split wood is used to make strong baskets. The gourd-like fruits were also used as hats by the hunters during earlier times.