Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Crescentia cujete

The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney - July

Common name calabash tree, tree calabash
Scientific name Crescentia cujete
Family  Bignoniaceae

Genus: Crescentia for Pietro Crescenzi, Italian,1230-1321, author of Opus Ruralium Commodorum, which was a work on country life.
Species: cujete is a Brazilian name for this species.

Distribution Native to Tropical America - Mexico, West Indies to Brazil.
Native habitat Found in thickets and forest margins, on roadsides and in pastures from sea level to 420 m altitude.
Description Evergreen tree to 10 m high with crooked branches. Leaves simple, obovate, sessile, papery. Apex acute to obtuse. Midrib prominent above. Sometimes pubescent on midrib beneath.
Flowering/fruiting Flowers in clusters or solitary, greenish white in colour, borne on trunk or main branches with a musty smell. Flowers at night between May and January and pollinated by bats. The fruit is hard-shelled, globose, up to 35 cm in diameter.

Location in Garden

Growing in bed 97 near the Mare and Foal statue.
Click here for map of garden beds & grid.


Crescentia cujete is a plant from the New World Tropics, and is one of many plants in the Trust's collection representative of tropical forest regions of the world. It is not weedy, although it has become naturalised in parts of India.

The tree is interesting and the fruit is quite ornamental. Prefers full sun and a well drained soil with ample soil moisture. Propagate from seed or semi-hardwood cuttings in late summer.

It is used in Suriname as traditional medicine. The fruit pulp is used for respiratory problems such as asthma. Dried fruits used as utensils, cups etc., carved as artwork. Made into musical instruments called maracas.




calabash tree