Contributed by Linnea Angermuller
From: Common Trees of
Puerto Rico & the Virgin Islands (Little & Wadsworth)
Jagua, genipa tree of the Madder Family (Rubiaceae), Genipa americana L.
The tree is a source of a sour
refreshing drink, grows to about 60 ft. [much scientific botanical description left out],
with large, pale yellow flowers about l inch long and l-l/2 inches across the 5 lobes, few
or several in short terminal clusters; and large elliptic yellow-brown fruits 3-l/2-4l/2
inches long hanging down singly on long stalks.
The trees are grown for shade and ornament as well as for the fruit and wood. An intoxicating beverage has been prepared from the fermented juice. The fruits are sometimes made into marmalade or preserves. Immature fruits contain a blue-black juice which produces a lasting or indelible stain.
It has been used as a dye and by the Indians in tattooing and in painting themselves as a protection against insect bites. A honey plant, Livestock eat the fruits. The fruits (berries) are soft when mature, with strong sour odor, with leathery skin and yellow-brown pulp l/2 inch thick. Within are numerous flat, yellowish seeds. Flowering and fruiting from spring to fall.
The wood is hard, heavy, strong, resilient, fine-textured, and with straight to irregular grain. It works easily with excellent results, used in tool handles, furniture, boxes, carts, cabinetwork, tool handles, etc. Its range is in the Caribbean Islands and from southern Mexico down through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil.
Other Common Names: jagua (Spanish, commerce); maluco (Mexico); guaitil (Costa Rica); guaitil blanco, jagua amarilla, jagua blanca, jagua colorado, jagua de montana, jagua negra (Panama); ... genipap, marmalade-box(British West Indies); juniper, genip (Trinidad); ibo-ink (Tobago); lana, geniptree, genipa (British Guiana);.....genipapo (Brazil). [If anyone wants EVERY common name, wait til I get new glasses!
September 14, 1998