Rubiaceae
Genipa americana • Jenipapo

 

The immature fruits of Genipa americana (left) yield dark-blue body paint, used historically by indigenous people for painting the body and dying hair, clothes and various objects (1). The use of Genipa and Bixa as body paints is very widespread in the Amazon (2). When applied to the skin, the colour tends to fade away over a few days or more (3). The pasty pulp of the ripe fruits (right) has an acidic flavour and is prepared as juices, jams and jellies, candied fruit and liquors (1). Both he unripe and ripe fruit are used to treat various conditions in traditional medicine (1,4). Aside from the fruit, the roots, bark and leaves are also considered to have medicinal properties (4).

(1) Parrotta, JA (1995) Trees of the Tapajós; A photographic field guide. USDA Forest Service. 370 p.

(2) Miliken, W, Albert, B (1999) Yanomami; a forest people. RBG Kew 161 p.

(3) Local guides at Amazonat, personal communication

(4) Mors, WB, Rizzini, CT and Pereira, NA (2000) Medicinal Plants of Brazil. Reference Publications Inc: 501 p.