Genipa Americana


Botanical Information

  • Subkingdom: Tracheobionta
  • Superdivision: Tracheobionta
  • Division: Magnoliophyta
  • lass: Magnoliopsida
  • Subclass: Asteridae
  • Order: Rubiales
  • Family: Rubiceae
  • Genus: Genipa L
  • Species: Genipa Americana L

Origin and Geographical Distribution
Genipa Americana is common throughout tropical & subtropical regions of Central & South America. It flourishes
both on well drained soils and on periodically flooded riverbanks.


The Genipa Americana tree stands tall at heights between 10–20 meters (30–65 feet). The trunk is approximately 40 – 80cm
in diameter (15–30 inches). It is a deciduous tree with abundant foliage, the short-petioled leaves are more highly
concentrated at the branch apex with an average size of 10-30cm (4 –12 inches). Its yellow or white flowers, about
4cm in diameter (1.5inches) are tubular in shape, with five petals, they appear in clusters at the base of the leaf.
The fruit is a globose to ovoid shape, and varies in size and weight from 5-15cm in length by 4-10cm in diameter
and from 150-400g in weight (that’s 2-6inches in length by 1.5-4 inches in diameter and from 5-14 ounces in weight).
The pericarp is a white/yellowish colour and around 2.5cm thick (1 inch). The pulp contains the seeds protected by
mucilaginous membranes. It is the juice from this pulp that contains the active colouring ingredient ‘Genepine’.

Varieties & Propagation
There are smaller ‘shrubby’ forms of the Genipa Americana tree, which grow along the riverbanks in Brazil. These
trees are said to produce fruit all year round, though inedible, the genipine colouring should still be present in
the small and unripe fruits. The Genipa Americana tree is naturally propagated by seeds, through natural dispersion
and germination; though it is thought that the reason this tree is so well dispersed is thanks to well planned
dispersion by indigenous peoples many years ago because if the many valued uses of the Genipa Americana Tree.

The Key biochemicals of Genipa Americana are; Genipine, Manitol, Tannins, Tannic Acid, Tartaric Acid, Genopocidic
acid, Caterine, Hydatoin, Manit, Caffeine, Calcium.

Scientific Names
Preferred Scientific Name: Genipa Americana L
Other Scientific Names: Genipa americana var. caruto (Kunth) K. Schum, Genipa caruto Kunth, Gardenia genipa Sw., Genipa barbata Presl, Genipa codonocaiyx Standl., Genipa cymosa Spruce, Genipa exelsa K Krause, Genipa grandifolia Pers. Genipa oblongifolia Ruiz & Pav., Genipa pubescens DC., Genipa spruceana Steyerm., Genipa venosa Standl., Genipa nervosa Sprce

Trade Names
Jagua, Genipa, Marmalade Box

Some Common Names
English; Genipap, Marmalade Box

Spanish; Jagua, Huito, Genipa, Caruto
Portuguese; Jenipapo, Mandipa
French; Confiture de Singe
Bolivia; Bí, Nané, Nobirr, Bi grande, Bicito, Totumillo
Brazil; Jenipapo, Genipapo, Genipopeiro, Jenipá, Jenipaba, Janipopeiro, Jenipapeiro, Janipapo, Cabacu
Columbia; Jagua, Genipa, Huito, Angelina, Genipapo, Chipara, Chibara, Guanapay
Costa Rica; Guaitilil, Tapaculo, Guaitilil Blanco, Brir
Equador; Jagua, Shiño, Sua, Sula, Tsua, Airo-tua, We’e
French Guyana; Genipa
Guadeloupe; Genipa
Guatemala; Irayol, Irayol de Loma, Irayol de Montaña, Crayo, Guali
Guyana; Lana
Honduras; Jagua, Irayol
Mexico; Jagua Azol, Maluco
Nicaragua; Tapaculo, Gigualtí
Panama; Jagua, Jagua Negro, Jagua de Montaña, Jagua Blanca, Guayatil Colorado
Peru; Palo Colorado, Huito, Huitoc, Huitol, Juagua, Yaguayagua, Vito, Vitu
Paraguay; ñandypa Guasu
Puerto Rico; Jagua, Genipa, Caruto
Surinam; Arasaloe, Tapoeripa
El Salvador; Irayol, Tambor, Tiñadientes, Tiñe-dientes

Venezuela; Caruto, Xagua, Carcarutoto, Caruto Rebalsero, Guaricha


Fruit – provides a valuable food source for most of the year.

  • Ripe fruit is eaten raw,
  • The fruit is also processed to produce; desserts (e.g. bullet of jenipapo), jams, syrups,
    non alcoholic beverages and sherbets, wines and liqueurs (e.g.huitochado, jenipapada)

Fruit – provides a valuable source of traditional medicines.

  • Used to treat such ailments as; Colds, sore throats, asthma, chest infections and other respiratory problems
  • Used for its antiseptic, antibiotic, bactericidal and fungicidal properties
  • Used for its insect repelling qualities
  • Used for protection from sunburn

Fruit – provides a valuable source of natural dye

  • Used to decorate the body
  • Used to decorate fabrics and other natural materials

Wood – a quick growing sustainable supply with a tree that is native to the Amazon

  • Firewood; relatively young trees, 5 years old
  • Timber; relatively young trees, 10 years old

Bark – a by-product of firewood and timber

  • High in tannin; used for treating leather
  • Fibres; used for cordage

Leaves – available all year round

  • Fodder; eaten by cattle

Some informative websites with information and beautiful photographs of Genipa Americana: