Botanical name: Crescentia cujete Family: Bignoniaceae (Bignonia family)
The Calabash tree is a small tree of multiple uses, originating from tropical America, now widely distributed in the tropics. The calabash tree grows to 30 feet often with multiple trunks. The rangy twisting branches have simple elliptical leaves clustered at the nodes. The greenish-yellow flowers are marked with purple veins. The flowers arise from the trunk or main branches and appear from May through January. The woody fruit, botanically a capsule, is elliptic, ovate, or spherical and may grow to 10 inches in diameter. The fruit takes up to seven months to ripen. Fibers from the calabash tree were twisted into twine and ropes. The hard wood made tools and tool handles. The split wood was woven for sturdy baskets. But it was the calabash's gourd-like fruit that made the plant truly useful. Large calabashes were used as bowls and, peculiarly, to disguise the heads of hunters.
Medicinal uses: In Suriname's traditional medicine, the fruit pulp is used for respiratory problems such as asthma.
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