Cujete is a smooth, much-branched tree growing to a height of 4 to
5 meters. Branches are arching with close-set clusters of leaves. Leaves are alternate, often fascicled at the nodes, oblanceolate,
5 to 17 centimeters long, glossy at the upper surface, blunt at the tip and narrowed
at the base. Flowers develop from the buds that grow from the main trunk,
yellowish and sometimes veined with purple, with a slightly foetid odor,
occurring singly or in pairs at the leaf axils, stalked and about 6 centimeters
long, and opens in the evening. Calyx is about 2 centimeters long, and split into two lobes. Fruit is short-stemmed, rounded, oval or oblong, green or purplish,
15 to 20 centimeters in diameter.
- Occasionally cultivated
for ornamental purposes.
- Recently introduced from tropical America.
studies of the fresh fruit pulp report the presence of crescentic acid,
tartaric acid, citric, and tannic acids, two resins and a coloring matter
than resembles indigo.
• Studies yielded tartaric acid, cianhidric acid, citric acid,
crescentic acid, tannins, beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, alpha and
beta amyrins, estearic acid, palmitic acid.
• Study yielded flavonoids quercetin, apigenin with anti-inflammatory,
antihemorrhagic and anti-platelet aggregation activities.
• Leaves have yielded naphthoquinone, iridoid glycosides, aucubin, plumieride, and asperuloside.
• Phytochemical study of the fruit yielded eight new compounds,
along with four known compounds, acanthoside D, ß-D-glucopransoyl
• Fruit yielded four new 11-nor-iridoids: 6-O-p-hydroxybenzoyl-10-deoxyeucommiol, 6-O-benzoyl-10-deoxyeucommiol, 6-O-benzoyl-dihydrocatalpolgenine (a mixture of 3 and 4) with two known iridoids, ningpogenin and 6-O-p-hydroxybenzoylaucubin. (14)
• Study analyzed nutritive and anti-nutritive compositions of fruit pulp in both wet and dry samples: ash 3.74% (dry), ether extract, 4.38% (wet); crude protein 7.67% W, 10.01% D; crude fiber 4.88% D; carbohydrate 15.65% W, 68.13% D. Sodium (Na) showed high value of 3.20% W and o.32% D. (see study below) (3)
• Phytochemical study on the fruit yielded saponins, flavonoid, cardenolides, tannins, and phenol, as well as the presence of hydrogen cyanide. Results also showed relatively low mean concentrations for heavy metals, but high mean concentrations for manganese, iron, zinc, and copper. Values for fat, protein, nitrogen, crude fibre, moisture content, sucrose, fructose, galactose and energy content are quite high viz; 1.13, 8.35, 1.34, 4.28, 84.92, 59.86, 25.09, 18.24 and 88.69%, respectively. (16)
• Constituent analysis of sarcocarp yielded 18 compounds, viz., ningpogenin (1), 6-O-p-hydroxylbenzoyl-aucubin (2), 3,3′-bisdemethylpinoresinol (3), (22E,24R)-ergosta-7,22-dien-3β-ol (4), ergosta-4,6,8 (4), 22-dien-3-one (5), cerevisterol (6), 5α,8α-epidiory-(22E,24R)-ergosta-6,22-dien-3β-ol (7), β-sitosterol (8), daucosterol (9), 3β,5α,9α-trihydroxyergosta-7,22-dien-6-one (10), ergosta-7,22-dien-3-one (11), sesquiterpene (12), 4-hydroxybenzonicacid (13), benzoic acid (14), p-hydroxybenzylethanol (15), p-hydroxybenzylalcohol (16), D-allitol (17), 5-hydroxymethyl-2-furancarboxaldehyde (18). (27)
• Study of C. cujete seed and oil
showed saturated acid content of mixed fatty acids: saturated acids 19.7%, oleic acid 59.4%, linoleic acid 19.3%, and linolenic acid 1.6%. In comparison of seed oil with peanut and olive oil, except for the presence of small amount of linolenic acid in peanut the oils are similar. (28)
• Study of essential oil by hydrodistillation of leaf by GC-MS analysis yielded 12 compounds accounting for 98.2% of total oil contents. Major constituents were kaur-16-ene (33.6%) and phytol (29.9%), along with trans-pinane (8.3%) and hexadecanal (4.6%), (Z)-9, 17-occtadecadienal
(3.4%), neophytadiene (2.3%), selina-4(15), 6-diene (1.2%), and allo-aromadendrene (1.0%). (29)
• Phytochemical screening of fruits yielded alkaloids, flavonoids, cardiac glycosides, reducing sugars, saponins, tannins, phytosterols, and terpenoids in the fresh cujete fruit. (see study below) (33)
• Proximate composition analysis of leaves yielded carbohydrate (40.46%), crude protein (16.51%). crude fiber (19.71%), crude fat (2.91%), ash (9.77%), and moisture (11.03%), while screening confirmed the presence of cardiac glycosides, saponins, tannins, anthraquinones, and flavonoids. Mineral analysis (mg/g) yielded in decreasing order: Ca (6.0) > K (5.0) > Mg (2.2) > P (1.5) > Na (0.2) Fe=Zn (0.6) . Cu=Mn (0.03). (37)
• Study of stem bark yielded alkaloids, saponins, tannins, flavonoids, terpenoids, steroids, resins, carbohydrates, proteins and fatty oils. (see study below) (38)
- Bioassay-directed fractionations of MeCOEt extract C. cujete isolated (25-3S)-3-hydroxy-5,6-dimethoxydehydroiso-α-lapachone (1), (2R)-5,6-dimethoxydehydroiso-α-lapachone (2), (2R)-5- methoxydehydroiso-α-lapachone (3), 2-((1-hydroxyethyl)naphtho(2,3,-b)furan-4,9-dione (4), 5-hydroxy-2-(1-hydroxyethyl)nahtho(2,3-b)furan-4,9-dione (5), 2-isopropenylnapththo92,3-b)furan-4,9-dione (6), and 5-hydroxydehydroiso-α-lapachone (7). (see study below) (4)
• Fruit considered aperient, laxative, expectorant.
• Considered anthelmintic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, febrifuge,
• Studies have suggested antibacterial, antidiabetic, snake venom neutralizing, anti-angiogenic, CNS depressant, antimycobacterial, anti-inflammatory, cytotoxic, wound healing, anti-platelet aggregation, anthelmintic properties.
Fruit, bark, leaves.
• In India,
used as a pectoral, the poultice of pulp is applied to the chest.
• In the West Indies,
syrup prepared from the pulp used for dysentery and skin diseases; also used as pectoral.
• In Rio de Janeiro,
the alcoholic extract of the not-quite ripe fruit used to relieve constipation
• For erysipelas, the fresh pulp is boiled in water to form a
black paste, mixed and boiled with vinegar, spread on linen for dermatologic
• The bark is used for mucoid diarrhea.
• Fruit pulp used as laxative and expectorant.
• In the Antilles
and Western Africa, fruit
pulp macerated in water is considered depurative, cooling and febrifuge,
and applied to burns and headaches.
• In West Africa,
fruit roasted in ashes is purgative and diuretic.
• In Sumatra, bark
decoction used to clean wounds and pounded leaves used as poultice for
• Internally, leaves used as diuretic.
• Throughout the Caribbean,
used as analgesic and anti-inflammatory
• In the Antilles,
fresh tops and leaves are ground and used as topical for wounds and
• In Venezuela,
decoction of bark used for diarrhea. Also, used to treat hematomas and
• In Costa Rica,
used as purgative.
• In Cote-d'Ivoire,
used for hypertension because of its diuretic effect.
• In Columbia,
used for respiratory afflictions.
• In Vietnam, used
as expectorant, antitussive, laxative and stomachic. Fruit decoction used to treat diarrhea, stomachaches, cold, bronchitis, cough, asthma, and urethritis.
• In Haiti, the
fruit of Crescentia cujete is part of the herbal mixtures reported in
its traditional medicine. In the province of Camaguey in Cuba, is considered a panacea.
• In Panama,
where it is called totumo, the fruit is used for diarrhea and
stomachaches. Also for respiratory ailments, bronchitis, cough, colds,
toothaches. headaches, menstrual irregularities; as laxative, anti-inflammatory,
febrifuge. The leaves are used for hypertension.
• Leaves used to lower blood pressure. Bark decoction used to clean wounds, treat hematomoas and tumors. Pulp syrup used to treat dysentery and stomachache. (37)
• Crafts / Household wares: In some countries,
the dried shell of the fruit is used to make bowls for drinking water, wine, tea or holding fruit or food. Shells used in craft, decorated with paintings or carvings. Also used in bags or other containers.
• Musical tool: Used in making maracas or musical rattle.
• Cigarette paper: In Brazil, the fibrous lining of the fruit is sometimes used as a substitute for cigarette paper.
• Orchid perch: A favorite perch for orchids.
• Phytochemicals / Fruits:
Previous studies have yielded naphthoquinones and iridoid glucosides.
The fruits yielded 15 new compounds, 3 iridoid glucosides, five iridoids,
3 2,4-pentanediol glycosides, along with known compounds.
• Iridoids and Iridoid Glucosides / Fruits: Study fruit constituents yielded 16 iridoids and iridoid glucosides. Eight compounds were new, named crescentins I-V and crescentosides A, B, and C. Another eight known compounds were identified as ajugol, 6-O-p-hydroxybenzoylajugol, aucubin, 6-O-p- hydroxybenzoyl-6-epiaucubin, agnuside, ningpogenin, 5,7-bisdeoxycynanchoside and a degradation product of glutinoside. (11)
and Anti-Nutritive Composition of Calabash Fruit:
Pulp was found to have high mineral concentrations; sodium, highest;
calcium, lowest, with high values of thiamine and found to be free from
HCN toxicity and suggests useful contributions to human health and nutrition. (see constituents above) (3)
Furanonaphthoquinones: Study isolated new and known
bioactive compounds showing selective activity toward DNA-repair-deficient
yeast mutants. (see constituents above) (4)
• Antibacterial: In a study of extracts against E. coli and S. aureus, Crescentia cujete
showed activity against S. aureus.
• Antibacterial: Among several solvents used, only the ethanol extracts showed significant antimicrobial activity against Shigella dysenteriae, Bacillus cereus, B. subtilis, B. megaterium and Staphylococcus aureus. (15)
• Snake Venom Neutralizing Effect: In a study of t5 plant extracts used by traditional healers in Colombia for snakebites, 31 had moderate to high neutralizing ability against the hemorrhagic effect of Bothrops atrox venom. C cujete (unripe fruits) was one of 19 that showed moderate neutralization. (10)
• Antidiabetic: In a non experimental validation for antidiabetic activity, study yields cyanhidric acid believed to stimulate insulin release.
• Crude Oil from Calabash Seed: Crude seed oil was found to have the following composition: saturated acids 19.7%, oleic acid 59.4%, linoleic acid 19.3%, linolenic acid 1.6%. Calabash oil is similar to peanut and olive oils except for its content of linolenic acid, which is an unusual constituent for an oil of low iodine number. (17)
• Antioxidant / Leaves and Stem Bark: Study evaluated leaves and bark crude ethanol extracts for antioxidant activity using DPPH, FRP, and TAC assays. Phytochemical screening yielded steroids, flavonoids, tannins, glycosides, and terpenoids. The leaves showed significant free radical scavenging properties compared to the stem bark. There was a clear correlation between antioxidant activity and phenolic content. (18)
• Antivenom Activity / Leaves and Stem Bark: Study evaluated the antivenom activity of ethanolic extracts of Crescentia cujete fruit in experimental animals. Results showed significant neutralizing capacity of snake Vipera russelli venom which may be beneficial in the treatment of snake bites. (19)
• Anti-Angionesis Effect: Study of Calabash fruit epicarp showed dose-dependent (100% concentration) antiangiogenic effect on chick embryo. Results suggest a potential for halting tumor revascularization.
• CNS Depressant Effect: Study evaluated the CNS depressant properties of a crude extract of pulp of fruit of C. cujete. There was significant dose dependent reduction in rearing, grooming, locomotor activity and head dips in mice with an anxiogenic effect on the elevated plus maze test.. Results showed the fruit possess central depressant properties. (21)
• Fetal Gestational Effect: Study evaluated an ethanolic fruit extract on Sprague Dawley rats days 6-19 of gestation, the organogenetic period. Findings suggests continuous consumption of higher concentration of the extract during gestation can cause alteration in growth and development of the fetus and changes in maternal organs and blood count. Caution is advised against using the extract during pregnancy. (23)
• Pericarp / Metabolites / Toxicity Study: Study of ethanol extract of pericarp yielded three groups of secondary metabolites, i.e., flavonoids, steroids, and triterpenes. Biological study did not show acute toxicity in either tested biological systems or concentrations tested. (24 )
• Anti-Mycobacterial / Metabolites / Toxicity Study: Study of aqueous and alcoholic extracts of stem bark and leaves of C. cujete showed inhibitory effect on all of the strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis used in the study. (25)
• Anti-Inflammatory / Antibacterial: Study evaluated the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial potential of C. cujete leaves and stem bark. Results showed dose-dependent anti-inflammatory activity in the HRBC membrane stabilization test and potent antibacterial activity by disc diffusion method. (26)
• Cytotoxicity / Mutagenicity / Antimutagenicity / Leaves: Study evaluated air-dried leaves of C. cujete. Phytochemical screening yielded secondary metabolites like flavonoids, tannins, reducing sugar, and steroids. All plants extracts (HE, AE and CEE) showed comparable mutagenicity, antimutagenicity, and protective potential towards MMS (methyl methanesulfonate) probably due to the presence of phytochemicals that could trap the CH3 carbocation released by MMS. (30)
• Hypoglycemic / Toxicity Study / Fruit: Study evaluated the acute toxicity dose and glucose lowering effect of Calabash fruit in alloxan-induced diabetic rabbits. Toxicity study of the fruit decoction was nontoxic by OECD guideline. Post Hoc Pair-wise Test showed Calabash and Metformin had comparable effects. Results suggest calabash fruit decoction is non-toxic and is effective in lowering blood glucose of alloxan-indced hyperglycemic rabbits at dose of 10 mg/kg. s(31) Study evaluated fruit juice of C. cujete for potential hypoglycemic effect in Sprague-Dawley rats. No toxicity was noted at 2000 mg/kg oral dose in rats using OECD guidelines. C. cujete caused an initial increase in glucose level followed by significant reduction at 4h and 6h (P<0.05). Effect was not significantly different from metformin. (39)
• Antiplatelet Aggregation Activity /Flavonoid / Fruit: Study investigated C. cujete fruit for flavonoid content and platelet aggregation activity. Results showed potent antiplatelet aggregation activity which was attributed to flavonoid content. Acute oral toxicity categorized it as non-toxic based on OECD guidelines-423. (32)
• Cytotoxicity / Antioxidant / Anthelmintic / Fruit: Fresh cujete fruit. Brine shrimp lethality assay showed the EA extract to be most toxic and exhibits highest bioactivity with LC50 of 1.50ppm during first 6 hours of treatment. Anthelmintic assay showed the EA extract at 20,000 ppm showed the least time to paralyze and kill test organisms Eudrilus eugenia. Thin layer chromatography showed phenolic antioxidants in the fruit crude ethanolic extract. (see constituents above) (33)
• Acaricidal / Fruit Pulp: Cattle tick is an important constraint in livestock production. Ethanol extract and fraction of fruit pulp of C. cujete was evaluated for acaricide effect against Rhipicephalus microplus. Study yielded cinnamic acid and benzoic acid. The ethyl acetate fraction 10% solution showed 100% mortality with LC50 of 5.9%. Cinnamic acid showed 63% mortality with LC50 of 6.6%. Results showed the fruit pulp as a potential alternative for R. microplus control. (34)
• Wound Healing / Leaf Ointment: Study evaluated the potential wound healing property of calabash tree leaf ointment on an incision wound model in mice. (35)
• Antimicrobiall / Stem Bark: Study evaluated methanolic crude stem bark for antimicrobial potential against clinical isolates of B. subtilis, S. aureus, P. aeruginosa, E. coli, S. typhi, Candida albicans, and A. niger. Results showed concentration dependent antimicrobial activity in the order of EF > MF > HF > MCE. (see constituents above) (38)
• Nanoparticles / Bactericidal / Leaves: Study reports on an easy, economical, and eco-friendly method of silver nanoparticles synthesis using an aqueous dry leaf extract of C. cujete. The silver nanoparticles showed better antimicrobial activity against gram-positive and gram-negative bacterial than the plant extract alone. (40)
• Cianhidric Acid: Studies have reported the presence of cianhidric acid in C. cujete. This review article mentions cianhidric acid as "one of the most toxic compounds in plants"
and is found in Crescentia cujete fruits, Phaseolus lunatus whole plant, and Prunus serotina leaves and seeds. The same review mentions an LD50 >2000 mg/kg p.o. in rats for ethanol extract of C. cujete fruits. (41) Note: I have not been able to locate any study on Crescentia cujete that pertains to cianhidric acid toxicity. (G. Stuart)
• Removal of Heavy Metal from Waste Water: Granite industrial wastewater effluent is one of the industries responsible for polluting the surronding aquatic environment. Study showed activated carbon form from calabash seed is an inexpensive and reliable material for the removal of toxic metals from the waste water. (42)
- Seeds in the cybermarket.