Crescentia cujete, commonly known as the Calabash Tree, is species of flowering plant that is native to Central and South America. It is the national tree of St. Lucia. It is naturalised in India. It is a dicotyledonous plant with simple leaves, which are alternate or in fascicles (clusters) on short shoots.
It is also known as Ayale (English), Calabacero (Spain), Cuité (Brazil) Totumo (Panama, Colombia, Venezuela and Peru), Taparo (Venezuela), Mate (Ecuador), Huinga (Peru), Pate (Peru), Cuyabra (Colombia), Cujete (Spain, Philippines), Miracle Fruit (Philippines), Kalbas (Dominica and St. Lucia), Higuera (Puerto Rico).
This species is now widely grown throughout the tropics of both the Old World and New World for its fruits, which are used to make bowls, cups, jugs, water containers, and other utensils, as well as (often decorated) ornaments and musical instruments. It is also grown as an ornamental. Tying and training the growing fruits can reportedly produce a range of shapes. Blocks of calabash bark and wood, as well as the trees themselves, have been used for growing orchids.
The pulp of the fruit is poisonous and has been used in some areas for traditional medical treatments. Reportedly, the seeds are sometimes cooked and eaten. These trees are commonly encountered on hillside pastures, along roadsides, and wherever they are planted by humans, occurring especially in drier areas. They are easily propagated from seeds or cuttings, but grow slowly. Cultivated varieties may produce larger fruits than do wild trees. I photographed this specimen int eh Darwin Botanical Garden.
This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.