Common name: Calabash tree, Tiruvottukkay (Tamil), Sokeburude (Kannada)
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.
|Photographed in Garden of Five