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’.
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
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 genipin 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.