Crescentia cujete

scientific name: 
Crescentia cujete L.
Crescentia acuminata Kunth
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Small tree, up to 8 m tall with shorttrunk up to 20 cm in diameter with long spreading branches; leaves short-petiolate, spatulate, fasciculate, 5-20 cm long; flowers bell-shaped, born on the trunk in clusters, 5-6 cm long, greenish- white to greenish-yellowish with purple markings, foul smelling; fruit globose to ellipsoid, smooth, shiny, 10-30 cm in diameter, with hard shell.





  heated leaf, juice, in instillation1

For earache:

There is no available information establishing a means of preparation and dosage other than that referred to by traditional use.

According to published and other information:

Use for earache is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use (WHO)2 documented in the TRAMIL surveys.

Due to the health risks involved with earache, an initial medical evaluation is recommended.  Use is contraindicated in the presence of ear secretions and /or possible tympanum perforation.

When applied to the ear, strict hygiene measures should be observed in order to avoid contamination or additional infection.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should the earache last more than 2 days, seek medical attention.

The fruit should not be ingested due to TOXICITY and abortion risk.

There is no information available on the toxicity of the heated leaf juice for instillation in the ear.

The fruit pulp has been described as inducing emesis and is toxic for birds16.

The toxicity of the fruit pulp is attributed to the presence of hydrocyanic acid.  In cattle, it induces abortion due to the presence of oxytocic substances yet to be identified14.

The extract with wood ethyl acetate contains seven furanonaphthoquinones showing moderate but selective capacity to damage DNA (IC12 3 to 80 µ/mL) in the deficient DNA bioassay (RS322YK rad52).  Five of the furanonaphthoquinones showed cytotoxicity (IC50 between 0.21 and 3.7 µg/mL) in the in vitro Vera cell model, which is higher in magnitude than previously demonstrated on KB cells17.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in women during preganacy or while breast feeding.

TRAMIL Research3

The leaf contains the following compound groups:


triterpenoids & steroids  

  flavonoids   & coumarins

   flavonoid heterosides



petroleum ether










ethanol 90%



        + + + +

  + +




        + +



TRAMIL Research4

Preliminary phytochemical screening found the presence of quaternary alkaloids and polyphenols in the fruit.

The leaf contains terpenes: α y ß-amyrin; steroids: ß-sitosterol, stigmasterol; iridoids: asperuloside, aucubin, plumieride5; benzenoids: gentisic acid dione-3-hydroxy methyl-dione acid6; alkanols: triacontanol5.

The fruit pulp contains hydrocyanic acid and other organic acids: crescentic, tartaric, citric and chlorogenic acids7.

The wood contains naphthoquinones: kigelinone8.

The seed contains fixed oil: oleic acid9.

TRAMIL Research10

The hydroalcoholic extract (95%) from the fruit pulp did not show antibacterial activity in vitro against Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Aspergillus niger or Candida albicans.

TRAMIL Research11

The hydroalcoholic extract (80%) from the leaf administered orally to rats at doses of 1200 mg/kg or higher exhibited anti-inflammatory activity, dose-dependent for 24 hours, comparable to or higher than that caused by intramuscular administration of 100 mg/kg of sodium dichlophenac in the inflammation model induced by subcutaneous injection (0.1 mL) of formaldehyde (3.5%) in the rear leg of the rat.

The hydroalcoholic extract (95%) from the leaf (5 mg/mL) reported antibiotic activity in vitro against Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus12.

The hydroalcoholic maceration of the leaf inhibited growth in vitro of Salmonella typhi13.

The hydroalcoholic extract from the leaf and stem showed antibacterial activity in vitro against Bacillus subtilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa,Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli14.

The fruit pulp inhibited the growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae strains15.  




1 GERMOSEN-ROBINEAU L, GERONIMO M, AMPARO C, 1984 Encuesta TRAMIL. enda-caribe, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

2 WHO, 1991 Guidelines for the assessment of herbal medicines. WHO/TRM/91.4. Programme on Traditional Medicines, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland.

3 JOSEPH H, BOURGEOIS P, 1989 Contribution à la connaissance de Crescentia cujete L. Rapport TRAMIL. Laboratoire de phytochimie, Université des Antilles et de la Guyane, Pointe à Pitre, Guadeloupe.

4 ZWAVING J, 1986 Selección fitoquímica preliminar en algunas plantas TRAMIL. Laboratorio de Farmacognosia, Universidad de Groningen, Groningen, Holanda.

5 AGARWAL K, POPLI SP, 1992 The constituents of Crescentia cujete leaves. Fitoterapia 63(5):476.

6 GRIFFITHS LA, 1959 On the distribution of gentisic acid in green plants. J Exp Biol 10:437.

7 BLOHM H, 1962 Poisonous plants of Venezuela. Cambridge, USA: Harvard University Press, p136.

8 BADAMI R, SHANBHAG M, 1975 Minor seed oils. VIII: Examination of seed oils rich in unsaturated acids. J Oil Technol Assoc India 7(3):78-79.

9 CHEN C, 1983 Napthoquinone constituents of Crescentia cujete wood. Oa Hsueh 41(1):9-12.

10 LE GRAND A, WONDERGEM PA, 1986 Antimicrobial activity of 10 Caribbean species. TRAMIL inform. Dep. of Pharmacognosy, University of Leyden, Leyden, Holland.

11 GUPTA M, ESPOSITO AVELLA M, 1988 Evaluación química y farmacológica de algunas plantas medicinales de TRAMIL. CIFLORPAN, Universidad de Panamá, Panamá, Panamá.

12 VERPOORTE R, DIHAL PP, 1987 Medicinal plants of Surinam. IV. Antimicrobial activity of some medicinal plants. J Ethnopharmacol 21(3):315-318.

13 CACERES A, SAMAYOA B, 1989 Tamizaje de la actividad antibacteriana de plantas usadas en Guatemala para el tratamiento de afecciones gastrointestinales. Guatemala, Guatemala: Dirección General de Investigaciones, Universidad San Carlos (DIGI-USAC).

14 CONTRERAS A, ZOLLA C, 1982 Plantas tóxicas de México. Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, México DF, México.

15 CACERES A, 1992 Plants used in Guatemala for the treatment of respiratory diseases. 2: Evaluation of activity of 16 plants against Gram positive bacteria. Facultad de Ciencias Químicas y Farmacia, Universidad de San Carlos, Guatemala, Guatemala.

16 STANDLEY PC, 1938 Flora de Costa Rica, Pt. IV. Chicago,USA: Field Museum of Nat History p783.

17 HETZEL CE, GUNATILAKA AA, GLASS TE, KINGSTON DG, HOFFMANN G, JOHNSON RK, 1993 Bioactive furanonaphthoquinones from Crescentia cujete. J Nat Prod 56(9):1500-1505.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.