From the book
Fruits of Warm Climates
by Julia F. Morton
The true yellow mombin, S.
mombin L. (syn. S.
lutea L.) is most often called hog plum in the
Caribbean Islands. In Jamaica, it is also known as Spanish plum, or
gully plum. In Malaya, it is distinguished as thorny hog plum; in
Ghana, it is hog plum or Ashanti plum. Among its Spanish names are
caimito, chupandilla, ciruela agria, ciruela amarilla, ciruela de jobo,
ciruela del pais, ciruela de monte, ciruela loca, cirueld mango,
ciruela obo, cuajo, guama zapotero, hobo de monte, hubu, jobillo,
jobito, jobo, jobo arisco, joboban, jobo blanco, jobo de Castilla, Jobo
de perro, jobo de puerco, jobo espino, jobo espinoso, jobo gusanero,
jobo hembra, jobo jocote, jobo negro, jobo roñoso, jobo vano,
jocote, jocote amarillo, jocote de chanche, jocote dejobo, jocote jobo,
jocote montanero, jocote montero, jovo, marapa, obo de zopilote, palo
de mulato, noma, tobo de montana, obo and uvo. In Portuguese, it is
called acaiba, acaimiri, acaja, acajaiba, caja, caja mirim, caja
pequeno, cajazeiro, and caja miudo. In French, it is mombin franc,
mombin fruits jaunes, mombinier, myrobalane, prune mombin, prune
myrobalan, or prunier mombin. Local names in Surinam are hoeboe, mompe,
monbe, mopé and moppé. Amazonian Indians call it taperiba
or tapiriba (fruit of the tapir).
Fig. 70: The true yellow mombin (Spondias
mombin) is borne in dangling clusters. It is eaten mostly
by children and livestock.
yellow mombin tree, unlike that of the purple mombin, is erect,
stately, to 65 ft (20 m) tall, with trunk to 2 or 2 1/2 ft (60-75 cm)
in diameter, somewhat buttressed, and thick, fissured bark, often, in
young trees, bearing many blunt-pointed spines or knobs up to 3/4 in (2
cm) long. Generally, its lower branches are whorled. Its deciduous,
alternate, pinnate leaves, 8 to 18 in (20-45 cm) long, have hairy,
often pinkish, petioles and 9 to 19 sub-opposite, ovate or lanceolate,
pointed leaflets, 2 to 6 in (5-15 cm) long, inequilateral and oblique
at the base. Small, fragrant, whitish, male, female and bisexual
flowers are borne, after the new leaves, in panicles 6 to 12 in (15-30
cm) long. The fruit, hanging in numerous, branched, terminal clusters
of a dozen or more, is aromatic, ovoid or oblong, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 in
(3.2-4 cm) long and up to 1 in (2.5 cm) wide; golden-yellow; with thin,
tough skin, and scant, medium-yellow, translucent, fibrous, very juicy
pulp, somewhat musky, very acid, often with a hint of turpentine,
clinging to the white, fibrous or "corky" stone.
Origin and Distribution
tree is native and common in moist lowland forests from southern Mexico
to Peru and Brazil, and in many of the West Indies. It has been planted
in Bermuda; is grown to a limited extent in India and Indonesia; is
rare in Malaya, but widely cultivated and naturalized in tropical
The United States Department of Agriculture received
seeds from Colombia in 1914 (S.P.I. #39563); more seeds arrived in 1917
(S.P.I. #45086); and Dr. David Fairchild collected seeds in Panama in
1921 (S.P.I. #54632). Still, only a few specimens exist in special
collections in southern Florida.
is a strictly tropical tree, not growing above an elevation of 3,200 ft
(1,000 m) in South America. It is well-adapted to arid as well as humid
The tree may be propagated by seeds but it is usually grown from large
cuttings which root quickly.
tree is fast-growing in full sun and in the American tropics and Africa
is extensively planted as a living fence-post, as well as for shade and
for its fruits.
Costa Rica, the tree blooms in November and December and again in
March, and the fruits ripen in August, and in December/January.
Blooming occurs in Jamaica in April, May and June and the crop matures
in July and August. The fruits are in season in Mexico from July to
October; in Florida from August to November, They fall to the ground
when fully ripe, but children throw sticks up into the trees to bring
them down sooner.
The fruits are commonly infested with fruit-fly larvae.
yellow mombin is less desirable than the purple mombin and is
appreciated mostly by children and way-farers as a means of alleviating
thirst. Ripe fruits are eaten out-of-hand, or stewed with sugar. The
extracted juice is used to prepare ice cream, cool beverages and jelly.
Some people make those of fair quality into jam and various other
In Amazonas, the fruit is used mainly to produce wine
sold as " Vinho de Taperiba". In Guatemala, the fruit is made into a
Mexicans pickle the green fruits in vinegar
and eat them like olives with salt and chili, as they do with the
unripe purple mombin.
Young leaves are cooked as greens.
*Analyses made in Guatemala, Africa and the Philippines.
|Food Value Per 100 g of Edible Portion*
|Carotene (Vitamin A)
to Altschul, E.L. Little recorded on an herbarium specimen collected in
Colombia: ". . . fruit edible, but said to be bad for the throat." In
tropical Africa, excessive indulgence in the fruits is said to cause
The fruits are widely valued as feed for cattle and pigs.
The tree exudes a gum that is used as a glue.
The wood is yellow or yellowish-brown with darker markings; light in
weight, buoyant, flexible, strong; prone to attack by termites and
other pests. It is much used in carpentry, also for matchsticks,
match-boxes, physician's spatulas, sticks for sweetmeats, pencils,
pen-holders, packing cases, interior sheathing of houses and boats and
as a substitute for cork. It is not suited for turnery and does not
polish well. In Brazil, the woody tubercles on the trunk are cut off
and used for bottle stoppers and to make seals for stamping sealing
wax. In tropical Africa, saplings serve as poles for huts; branches for
garden poles and for axe and hoe handles. In Costa Rica and Puerto Rico
the wood is employed only as fuel. Ashes from the burned wood are
utilized in indigo-dyeing in Africa.
The bark, because of its tannin content, is used in tanning and dyeing.
It is so thick that it is popular for carving amulets, statuettes,
cigarette holders, and various ornamental objects.
Potable water can be derived from the roots in emergency.
The flowers are worked intensively by honeybees early in the morning.
The fruit juice is drunk as a diuretic and febrifuge. The decoction of
the astringent bark serves as an emetic, a remedy for diarrhea,
dysentery, hemorrhoids and a treatment for gonorrhea and leucorrhea;
and, in Mexico, it is believed to expel calcifications from the
bladder. The powdered bark is applied on wounds. A tea of the flowers
and leaves is taken to relieve stomachache, biliousness, urethritis,
cystitis and eye and throat inflammation. In Belize, a decoction of the
young leaves is a remedy for diarrhea and dysentery. The juice of
crushed leaves and the powder of dried leaves are used as poultices on
wounds and inflammations. The gum is employed as an expectorant and to
imbu, or umbu, S.
tuberosa Arruda, is a low-branching tree to 13 or 16
ft (4-5 m) high, spreading to a width of 30 ft (9 m). It has a shallow
system of soft, tuberous roots called cunca, which store much water.
The pinnate leaves have 5 to 9 oblong-ovate leaflets, 1 to 1 3/4 in
(2.5-4.5 cm) long, sometimes faintly toothed. Flowers, small, white and
4- to 5-petalled, are produced in panicles 4 to 6 in (10-15 cm) in
length. The fruit, borne in great abundance, exhibits minor seedling
variations; is usually more or less oval, 1 1/2 in (4 cm) long, with
greenish-yellow, fairly thick, tough skin and tender, melting pulp,
acid unripe, sweet when ripe, and adherent to the single stone, 3/4 in
(2 cm) long.
72: The imbu (Spondias
tuberosa) from The Navel Orange of Bahia, with
notes on some little-known Brazilian fruits, by P.H. Dorsett, A.D.
Shamel and W. Popenoe. Bull. 445, Bureau of Plant Industry, U.S.
Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 1917.
thrives in very dry soil, gravelly loam, sandy or partly clay,
throughout much of subtropical, semi-arid northeastern Brazil. It is
rarely cultivated. It is a much-appreciated, bountiful, wild food
resource of rural people. The fruits are gathered from the ground and
sold in village markets. They are eaten out-of-hand, or the juice is
blended with boiled milk and sugar, or made into ice cream or jelly.
The roots have been consumed in emergency and they readily yield
Introductions into Florida and Malaya have been unsuccessful.
Fig. 72: The imbu (Spondias tuberosa)
from The Navel Orange of Bahia, with notes on some little-known
Brazilian fruits, by P.H. Dorsett, A.D. Shamel and W. Popenoe. Bull.
445, Bureau of Plant Industry, U.S. Department of Agriculture,
Washington, D.C. 1917.
Last updated: 4/22/115 by ch