Calabash tree ‘renewable’

The Bignoniaceae is a family of flowering plants comprising of about 650 to 750 species in 116 to 120 genera.

Members of the family are mostly trees and shrubs, and more rarely climbing or herbaceous plants in 116 to 120 genera.

This family is commonly found as ornamental plants due to their large and often colorful flowers.

Important members include the calabash tree (Crescentia cujete) and many genera cultivated in horticulture such as Jacaranda.

The Gourd Tree is an example in which one can ‘use’ a living tree without destroying it in any way.

If renewable parts of the tree such as the flowers, fruits and leaves are used, then the pressure on cutting forests is much minimized.

The following is taken from Wild Trees in the Cayman Islands by Fred Burton, with illustrations by Penny Clifford:

The Gourd Tree, or Calabash, is a sprawling tree with thick branches dividing from the base of the tree and leaning out at all angles.

The result is a rather tangled mass of branches often making the tree wider than high. The Gourd Tree is unmistakable for its large fruits, which are bright green while they are on the tree.

They develop from large, short-lived flowers, which spout directly from the bark of the trunk and larger branches.

Grow Cayman Plants and encourage Cayman Wildlife! For more information, to share your knowledge or if you would like to get involved with the many activities in the National Trust’s Know Your Islands Program, please visit, or call 949-0121.