Crescentia cujete
Common Name: common calabash tree  
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Bignoniaceae
Native Range: Tropical America
Zone: 10 to 12
Height: 25.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 25.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Yellowish-brown
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 11-12. Best in warm, humid, tropical climates. Thrives in humus, consistently moist but well-drained soils in full sun or part shade, but will tolerate some drought when not bearing fruit. Pruning is seldom needed. Propagate from seed or cuttings.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Crescentia cujete, commonly known as calabash tree, is a small tropical evergreen tree of the Bignonia family that grows to 30’ tall. Original native territory is unclear, but probably extends from Mexico through Central America to Brazil plus the Caribbean. It is found today primarily in forest margins, thickets and roadsides. It has been introduced over time in many tropical areas around the world. It has naturalized in India. It is particularly noted for its (a) paddle-shaped green leaves (to 10” long), (b) tubular flowers (tubes to 2” long) which are light yellowish-brown with flaring lobes and purple interiors, and (c) large, spherical, gourd-like, yellow-green fruits (each to 8-12” diameter). Flowers and fruits are both cauliflorus (borne directly on the branches and trunk). Trees typically bloom and fruit throughout the year. It takes about 6 months for a fruit to grow and ripen. Flowers appear singly or in small clusters, have a strong somewhat unpleasant aroma, and are pollinated by bats. Fruits mature to the size of a soccer ball, have a tough woody shell containing a pulpy flesh, and are often hollowed out and used as containers. Fruits are also used to make maracas. Long history of herbal medicinal uses.

Genus name honors Italian author Pietro Crescenzi (1230-1321).

Specific epithet is a Brazilian name for this species.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Interesting landscape specimen tree with unusual but ornamentally attractive flowers and fruits.