Genipa americana

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Genipa americana
Genipa americana.jpg
Flower of Genipa americana
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Rubiaceae
Genus: Genipa
G. americana
Binomial name
Genipa americana
  • Genipa americana var. caruto K.Schum.
  • Genipa americana var. riobranquensis Kuhlm.
  • 'Genipa americana f. grandifolia Chodat & Hassl.
  • Genipa americana f. jorgensenii Steyerm.
  • Genipa americana f. parvifolia Chodat & Hassl.
  • Genipa barbata Presl
  • Genipa brasiliana A.Rich.
  • Genipa brasiliensis (Spreng.) Baill.
  • Genipa caruto Kunth
  • Genipa codonocalyx Standl.
  • Genipa excelsa K.Krause
  • Genipa grandifolia Pers.
  • Genipa humilis Vell.
  • Genipa oblongifolia Ruiz & Pav.
  • Genipa oleosa Rojas
  • Genipa pubescens DC.
  • Genipa venosa Standl.

Genipa americana /ˈɛnɪpə/ is a species of trees in the family Rubiaceae. It is native to the tropical forests of North and South America.


G. americana trees are up to 30 m tall and up to 60 cm dbh.[1][2][3] Their bark is smooth with little fissures.[3] The leaves are opposite, obovate, or obovate oblong, 10–35 cm long, 6–13 cm wide, and glossy dark green, with entire margin, acute or acuminate apex, and attenuated base.[1][4][2] The inflorescences are cymes up to 10 cm long.[1] The flowers are white to yellowish, slightly fragrant, calyx bell-shaped, corolla at 2–4.5 cm long, trumpet-shaped, and five- or six-lobed.[1][4][2] The five short stamens are inserted on top of the corolla tube.[4] The fruit is a thick-skinned edible greyish berry 10–12 cm long, 5–9 cm in diameter.[1][4]

Tree of Genipa americana.
Leaves and fruits of G. americana

Distribution and habitat[edit]

G. americana is native to the tropical forests of the Americas, from tropical Florida south to Argentina.[1][5][6] It is present from sea level up to 1200 m of elevation,[3] although some argue the original native range as being northern South America.[7]

Vernacular names[edit]

In English, the tree is known as the genip tree /ˈɛnɪp/ and the fruit as genipap /ˈɛnɪpæp/.[8]

Colombia: jagua, caruto, huito;[3][5] Brazil: jenipapo, formerly genipapo;[3] Costa Rica: guaitil, tapaculo;[3] Nicaragua: tapaculo, yigualtí;[3] Mexico: shagua, xagua;[3] Perú: huito, vito;[5] Argentina: ñandipá;[5] Bolivia:[9]

Chemical compounds[edit]

The following compounds have been isolated from G. americana: genipic acid,[10] genipinic acid,[10] genipin[11] (all three from the fruit) and geniposidic acid (leaves).[10]


The unripe fruit of G. americana yields a liquid used as a dye for tattoos, skin painting and insect repellent.[6]

This species is also cultivated for its edible fruits, which are eaten in preserves or made into drinks, jelly, or ice cream.[6]

The wood is reported to be resistant, strong, and easily worked; it is used in the making of utensils and in construction and carpentry.[2][3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Liogier, Alain H. (1985). Descriptive Flora of Puerto Rico and Adjacent Islands. La Editorial, UPR. p. 97. ISBN 9780847723386.
  2. ^ a b c d Francis, Macbride, J.; E., Dahlgren, B. (1936). "Flora of Peru /". Fieldiana. v.13:pt.6:no.1 [Rubiaceae]: 106.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i López, René; Montero, Martín (2005). "27 - Genipa americana". Manual de identificación de especies forestales con manejo certificable por comunidades (in Spanish). Instituto Amazónico de Investigaciones Científicas "SINCHI". ISBN 9789589759745.
  4. ^ a b c d Food and Fruit-bearing Forest Species: Examples from Latin America. FAO. 1986. p. 141. ISBN 9789251023723.
  5. ^ a b c d Grandtner, M. M.; Chevrette, Julien (2013). Dictionary of Trees, Volume 2: South America: Nomenclature, Taxonomy and Ecology. Academic Press. p. 263. ISBN 9780123969545.
  6. ^ a b c Hanelt, Peter; Research, Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant (2001). Mansfeld's Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: (Except Ornamentals). Springer Science & Business Media. p. 1775. ISBN 9783540410171.
  7. ^ Duarte, Odilo; Paull, Robert (2015). Exotic Fruits and Nuts of the New World. CABI. pp. 284–285. ISBN 9781780645056.
  8. ^ "genip, genipap". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  9. ^ Coimbra Sanz, Germán (2014). Diccionario enciclopédico cruceño, 3rd edition. Santa Cruz de la Sierra: Gobierno Autónomo Municipal de Santa Cruz. p. 54.
  10. ^ a b c Connolly, J.D.; Hill, R.A. (1991). Dictionary of Terpenoids. 1. CRC Press. pp. 49–50. ISBN 9780412257704.
  11. ^ Bajaj, Y. P. S. (2012). Medicinal and Aromatic Plants IV. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 164. ISBN 9783642770043.

External links[edit]