Caimito is a tree with a spreading
crown, growing to a height of 15 meters. Branches are numerous and slender, the
young tips are copper-colored and covered with appressed hairs. Leaves are leathery,
ovate or oblong, 7.5 to 13 centimeters long, pointed at the tip, blunt or rounded at the base and covered underneath with silky,
golden-brown, soft hairs. Flowers are purplish-white, small and clustered
in the axils of leaves, with 5 sepals, and a tubular corolla with 5 lobes. Fruit is large and rounded, 6 to 10 centimeters in
diameter, shiny and smooth, purplish or light-green skin, with a
translucent whitish or purplish, soft pulp surrounding flattened seeds about
1 to 1.5 centimeters long. The flesh, contains a small amount of milky juice, is somewhat fibrous, sweet, mild and pleasant tasting.
- Cultivated for its edible
fruit and as an ornamental tree.
- Recently introduced from tropical America.
- Seed contains saponin,
0.19%; pouterin, 0.0037%; a bitter principle (lucumin), 1.2%; a fixed oil, 6.6%; and dextrose, 2.4%.
- Leaves contain an amorphous bitter principle, some alkaloids, and no
- Bark is rich in tannin.
- Analysis for volatile constituents yielded 104 compounds in the aroma concentrate. Major constituents were: (E)-2-hexenal, 1-hexanol, limonene, linalool, α-copaene and hexadecanoic acid. (8)
- Various extracts of fresh fruits yielded nine known polyphenolic antioxidants viz. (+)-catechin (1), (−)-epicatechin (2), (+)-gallocatechin (3), (−)-epigallocatechin (4), quercetin (5), quercitrin (6), isoquercitrin (7), myricitrin (8), and gallic acid. (see studies below) (2)
- Seed is tonic, diuretic and febrifuge.
- Pectoral, tonic, stimulant.
Seeds, leaves, bark, fruit.
• Fruit eaten ripe, with a sweet and flavorful pulp.
• Also, an ingredient of ice cream and sherbet.
• In Jamaica, made into preserves.
• In Mexico, decoction
of the bark given for dysentery.
• In Costa Rica, infusion of bark is tonic and refreshing.
• Tonic: Infusion of the bark is tonic and refreshing.
• Latex is used for abscesses.
• Dried latex used as antihelminthic.
• In some countries, the fruit is used for diabetes.
• Bitter seed sometimes used as tonic, for diarrhea and fevers.
• Fruit eaten for inflammation in laryngitis and pneumonia.
• Used for diabetes.
• Decoction used for angina.
• In the Ivory Coast, decoction of leaves used for hypertension. Leaf decoction also used for diabetes.
• In Venezuela, unripe fruit used
for intestinal problems.
• In Puerto Rico, fruit used in treatment of diabetes.
• Decoction of bark used as tonic and stimulant; used for diarrhea,
dysentery, hemorrhages and treatment of gonorrhea.
• Cubans in Miami reported to use
the leaf decoction for cancer treatment.
• In Brazil, bark latex used resolutive on abscesses;
and as a potent vermifuge when dried and powdered.
• Poultice of grated leaves applied to wounds. Leaf decoction used for hypoglycemia. Fruit used for treating fever and hemorrhage. (13)
• Timber: Yields a brown and hard, but no durable wood. Used for indoor construction: planking, light framing, interior trim, shelving, panelling, etc.
• Dye: Bark yields tannin and dyestuff. (13)
• Polyphenolic Antioxidants / Fruits:
Study on various fruit extracts yielded nine known phenolic antioxidants. The ethyl acetate soluble fraction displayed the highest antioxidant activity, and of the compounds, compound 5 (quercetin) showed the highest antioxidant activity. (see constituents above) (2)
• Anthocyanin Antioxidant: Study of extracts of 12 edible fruits showed nine to exhibit
high antioxidant activity; C cainito yielded cyanidin-3-O-ß-glucopyranoside,
an anthocyanin antioxidant. (3)
• Vasorelaxant: A preliminary
study on the relaxant effect of the crude extract and fractions of the
bark of Chrysophyllum cainito L. in isolated rat thoracic aorta:
Methanolic bark extract study on rats showed vasorelaxant activity on
the smooth muscle. (5)
• Lectin Activity: Plant
samples of 178 species and 62 families were studied for lectin activity.
Potent lectins possessing more than 100,000 unites per gram were found
in the fruits extracts of C arabica and Chrysophyllum cainito. (4)
• Antidiabetic Activity / Leaves: Study of the aqueous decoction of C cainito leaves showed hypoglycemic activity at doses of ≥ 20 g/l. From 30 g/l, the plant would exert a toxic effect. The hypoglycemic effect was mainly attributed to alkaloids, sterols, or triterpenes. (6)
• Hypotensive Effect: Phytochemical study attributes the hypotensive effect flavonoids with vasodilation effect and inhibition of adrenergic receptors. (7)
• Glue Effect: Study explored the potential of star apple extract as glue. Results showed the glue from the star apple extract can be used as a substitute for commercial glue. (12)
• Anti-Inflammatory / Anti-Hypersensitivity Effects / Leaves: Study of crude methanolic extract of leaves demonstrated anti-inflammatory and anti-hypersensitivity effects on carrageenan-induced paw edema and hypersensitivity. Reduction of hypersensitivity attributed to isolated compound Lup-20(29)-en-3β-O-hexanoate > than 3β-Lup-20(29)-en-3-yl acetate. (14)
- Cultivated for its edible fruit.
- Seasonal market produce.
- Tinctures of bark, leaves and fruits in the cybermarket.