Genipap - Genipa americana Genipap - Genipa americana

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(Genipa americana)

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Genipap - Genipa americana

Genipap - Genipa americana


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  • Family: Rubiaceae
    Genus: Genipa
    Species: americana
    Synonyms: Genipa excelsa, Genipa oblongifolia
    Common Names: genipap, bilito, cafecillo denta, caruto, caruto rebalsero, confiture de singe, danipa, genipa, génipa, genipayer bitu, guaitil, guaricha, guayatil colorado, huito, huitol, huitoc, huitu, irayol, jagua blanca, jagua amarilla, jagua, jagua colorado, jeipapeiro, juniper, maluco, mandipa, marmelade-box, nandipa, ñandipa genipapo, tapaculo, tapoeripa, taproepa totumillo, yagua, yanupa-i, yenipa-i, yenipapa bi
    Part Used: Fruit, bark, root

    Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • is nutritious
  • repels insects
  • fruit or juice
  • fights free radicals
  • increase urination
  • 1 cup daily
  • aids digestion
  • kills bacteria
  • expels worms

    Genipap is a small to medium-sized tropical tree. It is 8 to 20 m tall, but specimens of up to 30 meters are also found. The diameter of the trunk is 30 to 80 cm and it has thick, smooth bark. It has a dense crown and the lower branches grow more or less horizontal, with 10 to 35 cm leaves at the ends. In most of Amazon Basin the trees flower in May to September and give fruit between September and April. It takes up to one year for the fruits to mature. In most trees, bees pollinate the flowers. Its fruit is a large, rounded berry, which is 9 to 15 cm long, 7 to 9 cm wide, weighing between 200 and 400 g. It has a thin and leathery covering and a 1 to 2 cm thick layer of soft, yellow-brown pulp. The central cavity contains up to 300 seeds, enclosed in membranes. The fruit is edible only when overripe and soft to the touch, when the flavor (acid to subacid) resembles that of dried apples or quinces.

    Genipap is widely distributed throughout the South American tropics and parts of the subtropical areas of Latin America. Areas were it grows naturally or where it has been introduced range from Mexico to Argentina and include the Caribbean as well. In most places Genipap is restricted to the lowlands. The tree may have originated in the Amazon where it grows naturally. It is found especially in the "várzeas", the part of the Amazon forest that lies next to rivers and is flooded annually for several months. Occurrence also extends into the open forest and the savannah transition zone. It is also common in secondary forests on sites abandoned by shifting agriculture.


    In Guyana, the ripe fruit is used mainly as fish bait. The fallen, astringent fruits are much eaten by wild and domestic animals. The juice of the unripe fruit is colorless but oxidizes on exposure to the air and gradually turns light brown, then blue-black, and finally jet black. It has been commonly employed by South American Indians to paint their faces and bodies for adornment and to repel insects; and to dye clothing, hammocks, utensils and basket materials a bluish-purple. The dye is indelible on the skin for 15 to 20 days. This very common use is probably the reason why the tree is so dispersed in all tropical America. The fruit juice is recommended against rheumatism. Amerindians make a syrup from the juice of the mesocarp or cook the fruit and seeds and use the residual water against asthma and to reduce inflammations of the respiratory system. The fruit pulp is used as a dental anesthetic. The scraped green fruit is used against itching.

    In Puerto Rico, the fruit is cut up and put in a pitcher of water with sugar added to make a summer drink like lemonade. Sometimes it is allowed to ferment slightly. A bottled concentrate is served with shaved ice by street vendors. In the Philippines the fruit is used to make cool drinks, as well as jelly, sherbet and ice cream. The flesh is sometimes added as a substitute for commercial pectin to aid the jelling of low-pectin fruit juices. Rural Brazilians prepare sweet preserves, syrup, a soft drink (called genipapada), wine, and a potent liqueur from the fruits.

    The fruit is eaten as a remedy for jaundice in El Salvador. Ingested in quantity, it is said to act as a vermifuge. The fruit juice is given as a diuretic. It is a common practice in Puerto Rico to cut up the fruits, steep them in water until there is a little fermentation, then add flavoring and drink the infusion as a cold remedy. The crushed green fruit and the bark decoction are applied on venereal sores and pharyngitis. The root decoction is a strong purgative. The seeds are crushed and added to water and taken as an emetic in Brazil. When cut, the bark exudes a whitish, sweetish gum which is diluted and used as an eyewash and is claimed to alleviate corneal opacities. The juice expressed from the leaves is commonly given as a febrifuge in Central America. The flower decoction is taken as a tonic and febrifuge.


    Analyses made in the Philippines many years ago show the following values for the edible portion of the fruit: protein, 0.51%; carbohydrates, 11.21%; sugar, 4.30%; ash, 0.20%; and malic acid, 0.63%. Additionally, 100 grams of the fruit provides 40 mg of calcium, 58 mg of phosphorus and 33 mg of Vitamin C. The fruit seeds contain 22,500 ppm caffeine. Other chemicals in genipap include: caterine, gardenoside, genamesides A-D, genipic-acid, genipin, genipin-gentiobioside, genipinic-acid, geniposide, geniposidic-acid, glycerides, hydantoin, mannitol, methyl-ethers, tannic acid, and tannins. The phytochemical, geniposide, has shown in laboratory tests to be an effective anti-inflammatory and a potential anti-asthma therapy.


    Because the fruit and its infusion have unusually good keeping quality, Puerto Rican scientists investigated the possible presence of antibiotic principles and proved the existence of antibiotic activity in all parts of the fruit. In 1964, Dr. W.H. Tallent of G.D. Searle & Company in Chicago, isolated and identified 2 new antibiotic cyclopentoid monoterpenes, primarily genipic acid and secondarily genipinic acid, its carbomethoxyl derivative. In the 1970's a U.S. patent was filed showing that the sap of genipap evidenced anti-leukemic actions in animal studies. Several other patents were filed by a Japanese research group who had synthesized the geniposide and genipin chemicals found in genipap as a cholesterol-lowering and chologogue drug.

    Amazonia abortifacient, asthma, bronchitis, body paint, catarrh, diarrhea, female genital inflammation, tooth extraction, uterine cancer
    Brazil anemia, depurative, diuretic, enteritis, jaundice, hepatosis, hydropsy, obstructions, skin ulcers, tonic
    Haiti anemia, aphrodisiac, blennorrhagia, cholagogue, depurative, diarrhea, diuretic, gonorrhea, liver problems, purgative, scurvy, stomachic, tonic, tumors
    Panama bug bites, intoxicant
    Elsewhere antiseptic, bactericide, cosmetic, germicide, gonorrhea, insect repellant, laxative, liqueur, tumors

    The above text has been authored by Leslie Taylor and copyrighted © 2005 All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, including websites, without written permission.

    * The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information contained in this plant database file is intended for education, entertainment and information purposes only. This information is not intended to be used to diagnose, prescribe or replace proper medical care. The plant described herein is not intended to treat, cure, diagnose, mitigate or prevent any disease. Please refer to our Conditions of Use for using this plant database file and web site.

    © Copyrighted 1996 to present by Leslie Taylor, Milam County, TX 77857.
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    Last updated 12-17-2012