Crescentia cujete L.

Sub-Family: Not available
English Name: Beggers Bowl
Synonym: Crescentia fasciculata Miers
Common Name: Thiruvattakkai, Calabash Tree
Flowering & Fruiting Period: Throughout the year
Distribution: Native of South America
Habitat: Grown in gardens
Uses: The young fruit is occasionally pickled. The seed can be eaten when cooked. A syrup and a popular confection called 'carabobo' is made from the seed. The roasted seeds, combined with roasted wheat, are used as an aromatic and flavourful coffee substitute. he fruit is abortifacient, emetic, emmenagogue, purgative and vermifuge. A syrup made from the pulp of the fruit is a popular remedy for colds. The juice of the fruit is used to treat diarrhoea, pneumonia and intestinal irregularity. It is made into a strong tea and drunk to procure an abortion, to ease childbirth, and is used in a mix to relieve severe menstrual pains by eliminating blood clots. The leaves are astringent, cholagogue, emetic (in larger doses), and purgative. The wood is easy to carve when still green but when thoroughly seasoned is 'like iron' and some have perhaps been in use for 'hundreds' of years. The wood is also used for fuel.
Key Characteristics: Small trees up to 8 m high. Leaves in scattered fascicle. Flowers solitary or in pairs, borne on main trunk or mature branches. Corolla bell-shaped, yellow, white or pale green with purplish or brown markings; lobes 5. Stamens 4, didynamous. Fruits broadly ellipsoid to globular, smooth, greenish yellow or black.