The Jagua fruit has been used by the Natives of Central and South America for hundreds of years. In native tribes today the unripe fruit’s juice is used to color temporary black designs on one’s skin during celebrations and ceremonies. Jagua is used as an insect repellent, protection from the sun, as well as for it’s antiseptic, antibiotic, bactericidal and fungicidal properties. It is also valued for food sources (beverages, desserts, alcoholic drinks etc.) as well as medicinal treatment (i.e. sore throats, colds, bronchitis and asthma). It is also useful for treatment of candiru, small parasite attacks. Jagua is a valuable fruit that is still used today.
While the fruit is not yet ripe, it produces ‘genipine’ an element that makes the juice of the fruit black when exposed to air (after being exposed to air, or, being “oxidized” it slowly turns from light blue to dark blue and then finally a solid black color). A similar process occurs when it is applied to skin.
Jagua, Genipa Americana L., is a tall, fast growing tree usually standing between 30 and 65 feet. The trunk is approximately between 15 to 30 inches and it is a deciduous tree with abundant foliage. The leaves are between 4 to 12 inches on average, and it has white or yellow tubular flowers(about 1.5 inches) with 5 pedals that are formed clustered at the leafs base. The actual Jagua fruit is a large round or oval shape, with a leather like covering. it is usually 3 1/2 - 6 inches long and 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 inches wide. It contains yellowish or brown seeds inside covered in a mucilaginous membrane. The pulp surrounding the seeds produces Genipine, which is the constituent responsible for the black color when oxidized.
Oxidization induces a natural reaction on skin resulting in a nice black/ dark blue temporary tattoo. It takes approximately one hour to dry, wait two hours and wash the gel/paint off with water. The temporary tattoo will start to develop within two hours, reach its final color in twenty-four hours and will last eight to fifteen days.