Monday 6 July, 2020

Botanical Roots: Why you should eat stinking toe

The stinking toe (PHOTO: iStock)

The stinking toe (PHOTO: iStock)

Stinking toe is the fruit of the West Indian Locust, one of the largest trees in the Caribbean.

The fruit is held within a large brown pod that is shaped somewhat like a toe and, when the shell of the pod is broken, a repugnant odour is released - hence the name, stinking toe.

The fruit and the tree it grows on are botanically known as Hymenaea courbaril.

The stinking toe shell of the pod is very hard and is about five centimeters thick.  Within the shell is a cream-coloured, powdery flesh. The texture is very dense and dry and the flavour is sweet, like powdered sugar. 

The bark, leaves and flowers of the West Indian Locust tree have long been consumed by indigenous tribes in the South American, Brazilian, Peruvian, and Central American rainforest, particularly the Karaja Indians and the Creole of Guyana.

In Jamaica, the stinking toe is a largely underrated delicacy, with lots of nutritional and medicinal benefits.

The fruit is very low in calories, and high in carbohydrates. It has been said to be an appetite enhancer, and an aphrodisiac. It is high in vitamin A and iron, and studies done on the flesh of the fruit show that it has antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial properties. 

Outside of tropical Mexico, Central and South America, stinking toe trees grow in Jamaica and in some of the Caribbean islands. The trees are also grown by some rare and tropical fruit growers in Southern California. 

Some of this information was taken from

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