This tree grows up to 60 feet tall, and has diagonal branches and dark-green lobed leaves. The lime-green, prickly, globular fruits weigh up to 10 pounds each. A good source of iron, calcium, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, and amino acids, it is an important foodstuff. Like the banana and plantain, it is eaten ripe as a "fruit" or unripe as a vegetable.
WHERE IT CAN BE FOUND:
Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Caribbean, Africa
PROPERTIES AND USE:
Analgesic, antifungal, astringent, purgative, hypotensive, anti-inflammatory, and treats diarrhea, stomachache, liver disease, diabetes, thrush, earache, enlarged spleen, headache, asthma, wounds, broken bones, sprains, skin infections, sciatica, toothache
For headaches, broken bones, sprains, and skin infections, slightly crush the leaves, and place directly on the affected area. For thrush, crushed leaves are applied directly on the tongue or are chewed. For earaches, sgueeze the juice from the leaves, and drop into the ear. For an enlarged spleen, roast the leaves and then crush into a powder. Use 1 teaspoon in 2 cups boiling water, and repeat twice per day. This same powder is applied directly on the gums for toothaches. For sciatica, press latex from the leaves, and place into a compress that is bandaged directly onto the spine. This procedure can also be used for skin conditions and wounds. One tablespoon latex diluted in water is used to treat diarrhea. For hypertension, crush 1 yellowing leaf and boil in 2 cups water. Cool. Sip throughout the day. In the Pacific Islands, the bark is used in a decoction for headaches. In the West Indies, a decoction is used to control diabetes. For broken bones or sprains, massage the latex directly on the affected area.