This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Among the products of Cuba, alluded to in our hasty notes on that island, is the long-leaved Calabash-tree, Crescentia cujete. This species attains the ordinary height of a pear-tree, being twenty to twenty-five feet in height. As it has been found at Key West, and is therefore American, we abridge a description of it from Nuttall: In the countries where it is indigenous, the wood is employed for saddle-trees, stools, chairs, and other articles of furniture; the fruit varies in form and size from ovoid to round; it is covered with a thin, even, smooth skin, of a greenish-yellow, and under this is a hard and ligneous shell, which contains a soft, yellowish pulp, of an acrid and disagreeable taste, which is employed as a remedy for dropsy, diarrhoea, and inflammations of the chest. Applied externally, it is deemed serviceable in bruises, burns, and headaches. The Indians and cattle sometimes eat the fallen fruit, and the former employ it, when hollowed out, for rattle boxes. This shell of the fruit is used for various kinds ot domestic vessels, such as goblets, coffee cups, tobacco boxes, dram bottles, etc, and it is said, even for kettles to boil water in, it being so thin, hard, and close-grained, as to stand the fire several successive times before it is destroyed.
We are indebted to D. J. N. Gomez for noble specimens.
The leaves grow out in clusters of nine or ten together. The flowers come out on the trunk and branches, are of a dull greenish-yellow, about one and a half inch long, solitary, and of a disagreeable smell. The dried shells, cut in half for domestic purposes, are sold by the blacks in the Cuba market, and are quite a curiosity.