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Common Names: WONDERFUL CALABASH TREE

Scientific Name: Crescentia mirabilis Ekman ex Urb.

Family: Bignoniaceae

Etymology

Genus: Crescentia – refers to Pietro Crescenzi a 14th century Italian author of Opus RuraliumCommodorum, a book on agricultural science.

Species: Mirabilis – Latin adjective meaning amazing, wondrous, remarkable.

Distribution

Endemic to Cuba

Native Habitat

As a tropical plant C. mirabilis is found in a wet coastal region of the northern coast line of Cuba.

Description

Small often highly branched evergreen tree to 5m. Leaves are verticillate (whorled) and whilst most appear to beobovatein shape this may vary as does the length of the leaf (5-10cm). The canopy is a fresh green colour that when in full leaf hide the large spherical fruits known collectively as Calabash (gourd). A typical inorescence holds 1 or 2 pale green trumpet like owers which are out from the trunk (cauliory) and /or branch (ramiory) and therefore are cleverly camouaged within the canopy. The owers do not stay open for long and are said to be pollinated by night ying insects and other fauna.

Flowering

Spring

Location in Garden

Lower Garden bed 97.

Information

Crescentia is a genus of six species of flowering plants in the family Bignoniaceae. Of the five species found in the Caribbean, four are present in Cuba and Dominican Republic. Crescentia mirabilis is one of the species endemic to Cuba and classified as an endangered species. It was first collected in 1922 by Erik Leonard Ekman (1883-1931), a Swedish botanist during what was proposed as a short stopover visit to Cuba (1 month) – final destination Brazil. The visit actually lasted 7 years

The Calabash produce large, more or less spherical fruits that can vary in shape and size. The hard, woody thin shell holds a white slimy and astringent inner pulp that surrounds small (8mm X 9mm) dark at seeds. Due to the impenetrable nature of the shell, seed dispersal is very dependent on animal or human assistance. In nature the fruit is eaten (or stamped on then the pulp is eaten) by horses or animals of similar weight and strength. Failing this people can saw through the shell and release the seeds for propagation.

Shells of the Calabash can be used as containers and water carriers but the pulp of some species can be toxic and should not be ingested.

Must See in the Garden

Recommended by the volunteers

Musa VelutinaDownload the Must See in the Garden map to enjoy a self guided walk around the Garden. Created by our volunteers each month with seasonal highlights in mind.

Or simply visit the Information Booth at the Garden Shop at 10.30 am everyday for a free guided walk!