Group Title: Olasee Davis articles
Title: Genipa trees reach out with branch of childhood
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 Material Information
Title: Genipa trees reach out with branch of childhood
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Davis, Olasee
Publication Date: July 4, 1997
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: CA01300919
Volume ID: VID00164
Source Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Holding Location: University of the Virgin Islands
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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14 TidNsOmsFray,fmiJ 4.1


Genipa trees reach out with branch of childhood

Since Hurricane Marilyn many
plants, psricularly fuit trees have
set fruit out of season. What we
called September plum locally
began to blossom early this year.
September plum usually begin to
set flowers and fruits by July and
ftait ripen by September.
However, geoipu is one firit on
time for this summer season. The
word Genipa (Genipsa amesericansa)
is an Indian word. In Puerto Rico,
geolpa is known as jagn or carato;
Bazil, cipara, Surinam Taposipa;
Costa Rica Gualill or Tapaculo, in
most Caribbean islands as genlpa
rcept in few islands like Barbados
andSt I.cisa AkMeo.
The origin of genlpa is debat-
able. Some litrature says native to
most areas areas of Cuba, Puerto
Rico, Virgin Islands, Hispsaniola,
Guadeloupe, Trinidad and from
southern Meico down to Argeti-
na. Other literature suggests It's
native to another South America
and natualized in optical Africa,
Asia and perhaps inaroduad in the
Caribbean by South Amneriandi-

The usefulness of genipa as a
beverage played a significant role in
South American Indians culture all
the way up to Indians in the
Caribbean. Besides eating the fruit,
the Indians obtained a dear liquid
from the freshly soft hit which at
times they bathed their legs, or
whole bodies with the juice of the
As kids, we know the frilt
stained once your clothes came into
contact with iL The liquid of the
fuit has a itringeot effect and grad.
really turns to a dark black color on
any part of your skin or nails that
touch it. The stain will not appear
from your nails for about 15 days.
Your clothes stain forever unless
yon have some kind of detergent
The Indian men in the Virgin
lands, Caribbean and throughout
Ceatnal and South America used to
play tricks on their women by sur-
reptitiously sprinkling them with
the liquid of the frait mixed with
frgnt water. Then, spots appear
on the women skin. The woman
who was ignorant of this cause of

spots looked everywhere for crews.
As time progressed, the woman
would realize that the spots disap-
pear as time goes by. Before the
Indians go to battle, they paint
themselves with genipt juice and
manmto which is a soa of ted ochre,
only the anoatto is much redder.
Also, the fruit has been used as a
dye by the Indian atooing thm-
selves as wells using he fit juice
asprotection against imseetbites.
The Guatamalah Indiaas believe
by carrying the fruit in your hands
wil provide proection uom disease
and other min fortmsne. As pant of
the Virgin Iands culture, we have
a ylif a gil goes upina gempa
reu the fruits will tor sour. And
believe me, some girl believe it
was true. As boys, we simply did

not want the girls up in the dees.
For boys, it was a type of
authority not to allow girls to climb
geSipa wees. If they do, they were
called 'tom boy." You see, we are
not much different from the Indian
men who played tricks on their
womeu about the geiMpa fhui sain.
A genip tree grows about 60 feet
in height and 1 1/2 feet in diameter
or sometimes larger with a spread-
ing crown ofdensefoliage.
The bark is mostly a smooth
gray. Th leaves me abondalt with
short petololed, opposite bt mostly
clustered at the branch tips. The
fruits like the size of a small lime
Fruits ane soft and fleshy when
matue with abiltersweetflavor. At
the mcete of each fit is one some-
times two lar seeds.
In the Virgin Islands and
throughout the Caribbean, genlps
was one of the favorite tropical
frails for isladess. Like eveything
els, gealp are disappearog and
mously found n fIres ft ea of the
Virgn Isands. GO time inthe Vir-
ginmlandscultre, lmtosteveynoe
had leilpatiseil Inheirback yar.

As we change our islands envi-
romner So many of our fruit trees
disappear because of little interest
in planting trees. People used to
harvest genipa by climbing the trees
and taking the clusters of fruits
while leaving the tree intact Today,
many people rip off lge branches
off the tree. Still others chop the
limbs off with machetes.
A primed branch will no longer
produce fnuit or will a felled tree.
As long is these harvesting meth-
ods continue, the islands will con-
tinue to have fewer bearing trees,
Genipa also known for its medical
properties. Fruits arc made into
drin, jelly, sherbet, and Ice crea.
Ripe fruits used fish bt
The tree wood is suitable for
decorative veneer, cabinet work,
ship building, turnery, flooring and
interior trim Likhe man, ifwe do not
plant goalpa trees now, there will be
no season for fruit the next time
OlassDaro, ,o lhana master
ofsdece degree ran rmanage-t
me and foresay ecoeIgy, is a St
Cainecolgist, oci#sa and writer.

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