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Morton, J. 1987. Yellow Mombin. p. 245–248. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.

Yellow Mombin

Spondias mombin L.

Spondias lutea L.

The true yellow mombin, S. mombin L. (syn. S. lutea L.) is most often called hog plum in the Caribbean Islands. In Jamaica, it is also known as Spanish plum, or gully plum. In Malaya, it is distinguished as thorny hog plum; in Ghana, it is hog plum or Ashanti plum. Among its Spanish names are caimito, chupandilla, ciruela agria, ciruela amarilla, ciruela de jobo, ciruela del pais, ciruela de monte, ciruela loca, cirueld mango, ciruela obo, cuajo, guama zapotero, hobo de monte, hubu, jobillo, jobito, jobo, jobo arisco, joboban, jobo blanco, jobo de Castilla, Jobo de perro, jobo de puerco, jobo espino, jobo espinoso, jobo gusanero, jobo hembra, jobo jocote, jobo negro, jobo roñoso, jobo vano, jocote, jocote amarillo, jocote de chanche, jocote dejobo, jocote jobo, jocote montanero, jocote montero, jovo, marapa, obo de zopilote, palo de mulato, noma, tobo de montana, obo and uvo. In Portuguese, it is called acaiba, acaimiri, acaja, acajaiba, caja, caja mirim, caja pequeno, cajazeiro, and caja miudo. In French, it is mombin franc, mombin fruits jaunes, mombinier, myrobalane, prune mombin, prune myrobalan, or prunier mombin. Local names in Surinam are hoeboe, mompe, monbe, mopé and moppé. Amazonian Indians call it taperiba or tapiriba (fruit of the tapir).

Yellow Mombin
Fig. 70: The true yellow mombin (Spondias mombin) is borne in dangling clusters. It is eaten mostly by children and livestock.


The yellow mombin tree, unlike that of the purple mombin, is erect, stately, to 65 ft (20 m) tall, with trunk to 2 or 2 1/2 ft (60-75 cm) in diameter, somewhat buttressed, and thick, fissured bark, often, in young trees, bearing many blunt-pointed spines or knobs up to 3/4 in (2 cm) long. Generally, its lower branches are whorled. Its deciduous, alternate, pinnate leaves, 8 to 18 in (20-45 cm) long, have hairy, often pinkish, petioles and 9 to 19 sub-opposite, ovate or lanceolate, pointed leaflets, 2 to 6 in (5-15 cm) long, inequilateral and oblique at the base. Small, fragrant, whitish, male, female and bisexual flowers are borne, after the new leaves, in panicles 6 to 12 in (15-30 cm) long. The fruit, hanging in numerous, branched, terminal clusters of a dozen or more, is aromatic, ovoid or oblong, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 in (3.2-4 cm) long and up to 1 in (2.5 cm) wide; golden-yellow; with thin, tough skin, and scant, medium-yellow, translucent, fibrous, very juicy pulp, somewhat musky, very acid, often with a hint of turpentine, clinging to the white, fibrous or "corky" stone.

Origin and Distribution

The tree is native and common in moist lowland forests from southern Mexico to Peru and Brazil, and in many of the West Indies. It has been planted in Bermuda; is grown to a limited extent in India and Indonesia; is rare in Malaya, but widely cultivated and naturalized in tropical Africa.

The United States Department of Agriculture received seeds from Colombia in 1914 (S.P.I. #39563); more seeds arrived in 1917 (S.P.I. #45086); and Dr. David Fairchild collected seeds in Panama in 1921 (S.P.I. #54632). Still, only a few specimens exist in special collections in southern Florida.


This is a strictly tropical tree, not growing above an elevation of 3,200 ft (1,000 m) in South America. It is well-adapted to arid as well as humid zones.


The tree may be propagated by seeds but it is usually grown from large cuttings which root quickly.


The tree is fast-growing in full sun and in the American tropics and Africa is extensively planted as a living fence-post, as well as for shade and for its fruits.


In Costa Rica, the tree blooms in November and December and again in March, and the fruits ripen in August, and in December/January. Blooming occurs in Jamaica in April, May and June and the crop matures in July and August. The fruits are in season in Mexico from July to October; in Florida from August to November, They fall to the ground when fully ripe, but children throw sticks up into the trees to bring them down sooner.


The fruits are commonly infested with fruit-fly larvae.

Food Uses

The yellow mombin is less desirable than the purple mombin and is appreciated mostly by children and way-farers as a means of alleviating thirst. Ripe fruits are eaten out-of-hand, or stewed with sugar. The extracted juice is used to prepare ice cream, cool beverages and jelly. Some people make those of fair quality into jam and various other preserves.

In Amazonas, the fruit is used mainly to produce wine sold as " Vinho de Taperiba". In Guatemala, the fruit is made into a cider-like drink.

Mexicans pickle the green fruits in vinegar and eat them like olives with salt and chili, as they do with the unripe purple mombin.

Young leaves are cooked as greens.

Food Value Per 100 g of Edible Portion*
Calories 21.8-48.1
Moisture 72.8-88.53 g
Protein 1.28-1.38 g
Fat 0.1-0.56 g
Fiber 1.16-1.18 g
Carbohydrates 8.70-10.0 g
Ash 0.65-0.66 g
Calcium 31.4 mg
Iron 2.8 mg
Carotene (Vitamin A) 71 I.U.
Thiamine 95 mcg
Riboflavin 50 mcg
Ascorbic Acid 46.4 mg

*Analyses made in Guatemala, Africa and the Philippines.


According to Altschul, E.L. Little recorded on an herbarium specimen collected in Colombia: ". . . fruit edible, but said to be bad for the throat." In tropical Africa, excessive indulgence in the fruits is said to cause dysentery.

Other Uses

Fruits: The fruits are widely valued as feed for cattle and pigs.

Gum: The tree exudes a gum that is used as a glue.

Wood: The wood is yellow or yellowish-brown with darker markings; light in weight, buoyant, flexible, strong; prone to attack by termites and other pests. It is much used in carpentry, also for matchsticks, match-boxes, physician's spatulas, sticks for sweetmeats, pencils, pen-holders, packing cases, interior sheathing of houses and boats and as a substitute for cork. It is not suited for turnery and does not polish well. In Brazil, the woody tubercles on the trunk are cut off and used for bottle stoppers and to make seals for stamping sealing wax. In tropical Africa, saplings serve as poles for huts; branches for garden poles and for axe and hoe handles. In Costa Rica and Puerto Rico the wood is employed only as fuel. Ashes from the burned wood are utilized in indigo-dyeing in Africa.

Bark: The bark, because of its tannin content, is used in tanning and dyeing. It is so thick that it is popular for carving amulets, statuettes, cigarette holders, and various ornamental objects.

Roots: Potable water can be derived from the roots in emergency.

Nectar: The flowers are worked intensively by honeybees early in the morning.

Medicinal Uses: The fruit juice is drunk as a diuretic and febrifuge. The decoction of the astringent bark serves as an emetic, a remedy for diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids and a treatment for gonorrhea and leucorrhea; and, in Mexico, it is
The Imbu
Fig. 71: The imbu. (Spondias tuberosa) of northeastern Brazil is an appreciated wild source of juice in that semi-arid land. Photo'd by the plant explorer, P.H. Dorsett in 1914, for the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

The Imbu
Fig. 72: The imbu (Spondias tuberosa) from The Navel Orange of Bahia, with notes on some little-known Brazilian fruits, by P.H. Dorsett, A.D. Shamel and W. Popenoe. Bull. 445, Bureau of Plant Industry, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 1917.

believed to expel calcifications from the bladder. The powdered bark is applied on wounds. A tea of the flowers and leaves is taken to relieve stomachache, biliousness, urethritis, cystitis and eye and throat inflammation. In Belize, a decoction of the young leaves is a remedy for diarrhea and dysentery. The juice of crushed leaves and the powder of dried leaves are used as poultices on wounds and inflammations. The gum is employed as an expectorant and to expel tapeworms.

Related Species

The imbu, or umbu, S. tuberosa Arruda, is a low-branching tree to 13 or 16 ft (4-5 m) high, spreading to a width of 30 ft (9 m). It has a shallow system of soft, tuberous roots called cunca, which store much water. The pinnate leaves have 5 to 9 oblong-ovate leaflets, 1 to 1 3/4 in (2.5-4.5 cm) long, sometimes faintly toothed. Flowers, small, white and 4- to 5-petalled, are produced in panicles 4 to 6 in (10-15 cm) in length. The fruit, borne in great abundance, exhibits minor seedling variations; is usually more or less oval, 1 1/2 in (4 cm) long, with greenish-yellow, fairly thick, tough skin and tender, melting pulp, acid unripe, sweet when ripe, and adherent to the single stone, 3/4 in (2 cm) long.

The tree thrives in very dry soil, gravelly loam, sandy or partly clay, throughout much of subtropical, semi-arid northeastern Brazil. It is rarely cultivated. It is a much-appreciated, bountiful, wild food resource of rural people. The fruits are gathered from the ground and sold in village markets. They are eaten out-of-hand, or the juice is blended with boiled milk and sugar, or made into ice cream or jelly. The roots have been consumed in emergency and they readily yield potable water.

Introductions into Florida and Malaya have been unsuccessful.