Family • Bignoniaceae - Crescentia alata HBK . - GOURD TREE

Scientific names

Crescentia alata HBK
Crescentia trifolia Blanco
Otophora paradoxa Blume
Parmentiera alata

Common names

Krus-krusan (Tag.)
Gourd tree (Engl.)
Mexican calabash (Engl.)
Winged calabash (Engl.)

Other vernacular names

MEXICO: Tecomate.
SPANISH: Hoja cruz.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Iridoids from Crescentia alata / Maria Guadalupe Valladares and Maria Yolanda Rios / J. Nat. Prod., 2007, 70 (1), pp 100–102 / DOI: 10.1021/np060499w

(2) Antimicrobial evaluation of certain plants used in Mexican traditional medicine for the treatment of respiratory diseases / Gabriela Rojas, Juan Levaro et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 74, Issue 1, January 2001, Pages 97-101 / doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(00)00349-4 |

(3) Chemical evaluation of morro or jícaro (Crescentia alata) flours prepared by ensilaging and/or dehydration/ Gómez-Brenes RA, Contreras I, Braham JE, Bressani R. / Arch Latinoam Nutr. 1980 Jun;30(2):236-53.

(4) Crescentia alata / Wikipedia

Krus-krusan is a small tree, 3 to 6 meters high. Leaves occur in fascicles at the nodes of the branches. Leaves are striking in appearance, with its winged leaflike stalk, about 1 centimeter wide, at the tip of which are three leaflets, shorter than the leaflike petiole. Leaflets are broadest near the end, with a notched tip and a wedged-shaped base, 4 to 7 centimeters long, without individual stalks. Flowers are borne singly on the trunk, brownish and rank-scented. Calyx is split into two lobes, about 1.5 centimeters long. Corolla is somewhat bell-shaped, about 6 centimeters long, 4 centimeters wide, with 5 short lobes. Fruit is hard, rounded, and about 5 centimeters in diameter.

– Occasionally cultivated for ornamental purposes in Rizal and Quezon Provinces.
– Introduced from Mexico during Spanish colonial times.

– Analysis of the pulp yielded: mineral salts, fixed oil 8%, resin, glucose, tannic acid, peptic principles, dextrine and cellulose.
– Study isolated four new 11-nor-iridoids, 6beta,7beta,8alpha,10-tetrahydroxy-cis-2-oxabicyclo[4.3.0]nonan-3-one, 6beta,7beta,8alpha,10-tetra-p-hydroxybenzoyl-cis-2-oxabicyclo[4.3.0]nonan-3-one , 1beta,6beta,7alpha,8alpha,10-pentahydroxy-cis-2-oxabicyclo[4.3.0]nonane , and 6beta-hydroxy-2-oxabicyclo[4.3.0]Delta8-9-nonen-1-one from the pulp of the fruits of Crescentia alata.


– Considered astringent, anti-hemorrhagic, pectoral.


Parts used

– Seeds are edible, high in protein, with a licorice-sweet taste. Used in Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua in making a horchata, Semilla de Jicaro.

– Decoction of leaves employed as astringent and anti-hemorrhagic.
– Used for hemoptysis and dysentery.
– In Mexico, pulp taken internally as a pectoral and for diseases of the kidney.
– Pulp or decoction of leaves used for diarrhea.
– Decoction also used for hair growth or to prevent it from falling.

Study Findings
• Iridoids: Study yielded four new 11-nor-iridoids from the pulp of the fruits of Crescentia alata.
• Antimicrobial: Study of 18 crude extracts from six different plants evaluated for potential antimicrobial activity against S aureus, E faecalis, S pneumonia, S pyogenes, E coli and C albicans. The extracts of G oxyphyllum, G americanum and Crescentia alata possessed strong antimicrobial activity against the pathogens tested.
• Chemical Evaluation of Flours: Chemical evaluation of ensilaged fruit material material showed the meals to contain on average 17% crude fat, 11% crude fiber, and 18% crude protein. The flours were limiting in the sulfur amino acid, lysine and threonine content.