Calabash Tree

Huge hard fruits of the Calabash Tree

Saw an unusual tree at the top of the beach at Lakka, on the Freetown Peninsula, it was a Calabash Tree. I don’t know how widespread they are in Sierra Leone, that is the first fruiting one i have seen.
Calabash tree, (Crescentia cujete), tree of the family Bignoniaceae, 6 to 12 metres (20 to 40 feet) tall, that grows in Central and South America, the West Indies, and extreme southern Florida. It is often grown as an ornamental. The calabash tree produces large spherical fruits, up to 50 cm (20 inches) in diameter, the hard shells of which are useful as bowls, cups, and other water containers when hollowed out. The fruit’s shell encloses a whitish pulp and thin, dark brown seeds. The calabash tree’s flowers have five petals fused in a funnel shape; they are light green and purple-streaked in colour. The tree may flower and fruit at any time of the year. The branches of the calabash are long and spread outward horizontally with almost no secondary branching. The evergreen leaves are about 5–15 cm long, are lance-shaped, and taper at the base. Fruits of the unrelated bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria, family Cucurbitaceae) are also known as calabashes.