Jina Fruit

Gina Tree And Fruit

Jina, also spelled Gina, is a tropical fruit tree that attracts birds of all types with its lush green cover and its sweet curly fruit. Humans, birds and honeybees are attracted to the interesting twisting seed filled sweet and fleshy fruit. The tropical fruit is a must try tropical pleasure that not many people ever get to enjoy.

A Jina Tree (Guamúchil, Guamá Americano) located in Santo Domingo Este, Dominican Republic.
A Jina Tree (Guamúchil, Guamá Americano) located in Santo Domingo Este, Dominican Republic.

The tree is a medium-sized, fast-growing tree species belonging to the genus Pithecellobium of the legume family. It is native to the American tropics, Mexico, Central and South America. It is an ornamental tree, with its small lightly perfumed flowers, that is also used for firewood and for the fruit. Since it is fast-growing it is perfect for reforestation.

A Jina Fruit with a dry seed pod, Dominican Republic.
A Jina Fruit with a dry seed pod, Dominican Republic.

The Fruit

The tree produces curling seed pods. These pods are first green and change to a reddish or pink color when the fruit is at its sweetest. You will know when the fruit is ripe when you hear the sounds of the birds chirping and squawking as they feast on the fruits. The fruit especially draws parrots (cotorras), woodpeckers (pájaro carpintero), nightingales (ruiseñor), sparrows (gorrión) and some migratory birds. Creatures including lizards come to enjoy the insects that hide in the spiny leaves of the tree while honey bees enjoy the taste of the sweet flowers the tree produces.

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The Jina (Inga fagifolia) Tree produces curling seed pods that hold sweet fruit.
The Jina (Inga fagifolia) Tree produces curling seed pods that hold sweet fruit.

After the birds have finished their feast, the open pods will drop to the earth where they turn into a crisp dry pod that is a great fertilizer but also can be messy. The pods crunch under the feet when walking over them.

A Jina Fruit showing the pretty black seeds and fruit inside the curling pod. Dominican Republic.
A Jina Fruit showing the pretty black seeds and fruit inside the curling pod. Dominican Republic.

The scientific name of the tree is Inga fagifolia and is part of the legume or pea family. It has many names in different countries including Guamúchil, gallinero, pinzán, chiminango, gina or jina, guamá americano (Puerto Rico), jina (Dominicam Republic), guamúchil, also known as “Espina de Madrás” (Mexico) or payandé (Pithecellobium dulce). The term “guamaras” refers to the fruit.

Interesting facts about the tree and fruit:

*In Dominican Republic it was thought that if girls ate the fruit they would develop hormones and pain at a younger age.

*The bark is used as an astringent.

*Some say the leaves can be used to prevent a miscarriage while others say the leaves cause abortions.

*India uses the fruit mixed with sugar and water to make a beverage called agua de guamúchil.

*The seeds are high in protein.

This is an interesting and funny video on YouTube where a man in just in love with jina. Guamuchiles Fruta, Guamá Americano, Pinzán, Chiminango, Gina, Payandé, Yacure.

References:
*eldia.com.do/gina-arbol
*wikipedia.org/wiki/Pithecellobium_dulce

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