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This article is about the tree. For the unrelated plant sometimes known as calabash, see calabash. For other uses of calabash, see Calabash (disambiguation).

Crescentia cujete
Fruiting branches, and showing bowl made of the hard rind of a fruit of that tree (Koutiala District, Mali, September 2014)

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)[1]

Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Bignoniaceae
Genus: Crescentia

C. cujete

Binomial name
Crescentia cujete


Crescentia cujete, dry fruit and seeds - MHNT

Crescentia cujete, commonly known as the calabash tree, is a species of flowering plant native đồ sộ the Americas, that is grown in Africa, Central America, South America, the West Indies and extreme southern Florida.[2] It is the national tree of St. Lucia. It is a dicotyledonous plant with simple leaves, which are alternate or in fascicles (clusters) on short shoots.[3] It is naturalized in India.[4] The tree shares its common name with that of the vine calabash, or bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria).[2]

In Cuba, this tree is known đồ sộ grow in both disturbed habitat and areas of poor drainage. It can grow up đồ sộ 10 meters tall.[5]



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A calabash is primarily used đồ sộ make utensils such as cups, bowls, and basins in rural areas. It can be used for carrying water, or for transporting fish, when fishing. In some Caribbean countries, it is worked, painted, and decorated and turned into items by artisans, and sold đồ sộ tourists.

As a cup, bowl, or even a water-pipe or "bong", the calabash is considered consistent with the "Ital" or vital lifestyle of not using refined products such as table salt, or modern cooking methods, such as microwave ovens. In Haiti, the plant is called kalbas kouran, literally, "running calabash", and is used đồ sộ make the sacred rattle emblematic of the Vodou priesthood, called an asson. As such, the plant is highly respected. It is the national tree of St. Lucia. In Cuba, the dried fruit is commonly used as a coffee cup by rural farmers.[5] In Dominican Republic, the plant is called the higüero tree and it is popularly used đồ sộ make decorative objects and ornaments, though historically it has been used in all sorts of ways.[6]

Costa Rica[edit]

The Costa Rican town of Santa Bárbara de Santa Cruz holds a traditional annual dance of the calabashes (baile de los guacales). Since 2000, the activity has been considered of cultural interest đồ sộ the community, and all participants receive a hand-painted calabash vessel đồ sộ thank them for their economic contribution (which they paid in the size of an entrance ticket).[7]

Native Americans throughout the country traditionally serve chicha in calabash vessels đồ sộ the participants of special events such as the baile de los diablitos (dance of the little fiends - literally, dance of the little devils).[8]


In many rural parts of Mexico, the calabash is dried and carved hollow đồ sộ create a bule or a guaje, a gourd used đồ sộ carry water around lượt thích a canteen. The jícara fruit is cut in half, which gave the parallel name đồ sộ a clay cup also called jícara. These jícaras can also be used for serving or drinking.[citation needed]


Bowls made of calabash were used by Brazilians as utensils made đồ sộ serve food, and the practice is still retained in some remote areas of Brazil (originally by populations of various ethnicities, origins and regions, but nowadays mainly by Native Americans). The fruit are also commonly used in Brazil as the resonator for the berimbau, the signature instrument of capoeira, a martial art/dance developed in Brazilian plantations by enslaved Africans.


In Colombia, the dried fruit is halved and then partially filled with either stones, beads, seeds, broken glass or a combination and is then used đồ sộ keep the rhythm in bullerengue music. The dried fruit are filled with certain seeds and a handle is made đồ sộ make maracas in multiple Latin American countries (especially Colombia and Cuba).

Berimbau, musical instrument in Brazil: The fruit functions as a resonator.


In Western and Southern Africa it is also used for decoration and musical instruments.[citation needed] Calabash bowls are also widely used by women working as artisanal gold miners, đồ sộ 'pan for' & recover fine grains of gold.[citation needed]

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External links[edit]

  • Media related đồ sộ Crescentia cujete at Wikimedia Commons
  • Plant of the Week 31 January 2005: Calabash Tree (Crescentia cujete)
  • Philippine Medicinal Plants: Cujete
  • "Crescentia cujete". Plants for a Future.