Ethnobotany of pru, a traditional Cuban refreshment

G. Volpato, D. Godínez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Gouania polygama (Jacq.) Urban, Smilax domingensis Willd., and Pimenta dioica Merr., are three species widely used within Cuban ethnobotanical traditions and practices. Pru is a traditional refreshment and medicinal drink produced by their decoction and fermentation with sugar. It is claimed to have hypotensive, stomachic, depurative, and diuretic properties. Pru has long been confined to a number of traditional villages in eastern Cuba, and its origin may be traced back to the ethnobotanical knowledge of French-Haitian people that migrated to Cuba from the end of the 1700s. With the economic crisis of the early 1990s that resulted in the disappearance of industrial soft drinks and in the search for new income sources, pru spread across almost the entire island. This has resulted in the commoditization of the drink and related traditional knowledge, and possibly in increasing pressure on the species' wild populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-395
JournalEconomic Botany
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • fermented foods
  • triterpenoid saponins
  • us embargo
  • health
  • impact
  • countries
  • medicine
  • healers
  • safety
  • tea


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