An ethnobotanical inventory
Geo Coppens d'Eeckenbrugge and Dimary Libreros Ferla

Bromelia karatas L. (Bromeliaceae)

Common names :
Sp: camburito, chigüichigüe, curibijil, quiribijil, curujujul, cuscuta (Venezuela), jocuiste, timbiriche, timbirichi (Mexico), maya cimarrona, maya piñon, maya de ratón (Cuba), piñuela (Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela), piña de cuervo (Puerto Rico); Po: caraguata, carauata, coroata, croata; Fr: carata, karatas, ananas pingouin, bayyonnet pengouin

Origin and geographical distribution : Antilles, Central America and northern South America.

Status : Wild or cultivated, often as a living fence.

Description : Short-stemmed rosette, robust, propagated by seeds and stolons. Leaves, 2-3 m long, 4-6 cm wide, armed with strong retrorse spines, at regular intervals. Flowers sessile, disposed in a dense capitulum. Fusiform berry, 4-8 cm long, grayish yellow to red, containing many small, black seeds in a juicy white pulp. Highly variable herb to 1-2 m in height and width, organized in a rosette with very short internodes and terminal inflorescence. 

Uses : Pulp eaten fresh or processed into juice. The fruit is very rich in bromelain, so it attacks the mucose tissues of the mouth. As for many bromeliads, B. karatas is often used as a source of fibers to make ropes, carpets, etc. 

References : Fouqué, 1972


May, 2001

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