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Flore médicale des Antilles, ou, Traité des plantes usuelles (Pl. 87) (8201965491).jpg
Flower, fruit, and leaf of Genipa americana
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Rubiaceae
Subfamily: Ixoroideae
Tribe: Gardenieae
Genus: Genipa

Genipa americana
Genipa infundibuliformis
Genipa spruceana
and see text

Genipa, the genip-trees, are a genus of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae. This genus is closely allied to Gardenia; several Gardenia species were originally placed in Genipa. It is not to be confused with genip (Melicoccus bijugatus), a completely unrelated eudicot. The name is derived from genipapo, the Guianan name for G. americana (commonly known as huito). The genus is also commonly called jagua, xagua or xaqua.

Most authors today restrict Genipa to the New World species, transferring the Old World species to other genera. The ten species from Madagascar, originally described by Drake, are referred to as Genipa sensu Drake. They do not belong to the Rubiaceae tribe Gardenieae like the New World Genipa species and their Australasian relatives, but in the tribe Octotropideae. The Genipa species sensu Drake are better placed in the otherwise South African genus Hyperacanthus. Other species are now in Randia, and a number of additional genera. Altogether, a mere 3 species are nowadays included in Genipa; even of the Neotropical taxa, many are now included in the widespread and variable G. americana.[1]


Genip trees are shrubs and medium-sized (up to 18 m tall) trees[verification needed], native to tropical regions of the Americas.

The bark is mostly[verification needed] smooth and gray. The dense foliage consists of opposite leaves that are sessile or with short peduncles[verification needed]. They are mostly[verification needed] clustered at the tips of the branches. The leathery leaves have an oblanceolate, elliptic or obovate shape[verification needed]. The ovate and acuminate stipules are interpetiolar, fused at base.

The inflorescence is axillary or terminal[verification needed]. The flowers are solitary or few in a cyme[verification needed]. They are at first white or creamy-white, but turn yellow later on. The flowers are sexually dimorphic; they can be bisexual or functionally unisexual[verification needed]. The male flowers ripen before the female flowers. The short, tubular calyx has five or six small lobes[verification needed]. The bell-shaped corolla consists of five symmetrical left-contorted oblong petals, rounded at their apex. The stamens lie between the corolla lobes, exserting for half their length. The style projects beyond the corolla. The inferior ovary is 2-locular, with many ovules per locule. The fruit is a succulent berry with a thick rind, the size of a small lime.

The fruits of these culturally significant plants are edible. The wood is used in handicraft.

List of species[edit]

The three remaining good species placed in Genipa are:[1]

Formerly placed here[edit]

In addition to those species now in Gardenia, Hyperacanthus and Randia, former members of Genipa are:[1]

Genipa vaginata Baill. from New Caledonia is of unclear affiliation, but almost certainly does not actually belong in the present genus.


  1. ^ a b c Govaerts et al. (2005)


  • Govaerts, R.; Andersson, L.; Robbrecht, E.; Bridson, D.; Davis, A.; Schanzer, I. & Sonke, B. (2005): World Checklist of Rubiaceae – Genipa. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2008-DEC-27.

External links[edit]

  • HTMLized .pdf UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT - Market Brief in the European Union for selected natural ingredients derived from native species: Genipa americana, Jagua, huito (accessed 12 March 2006)
  • .pdf version of above