|Pachira aquatica subsp. var.||Money Tree, Malabar Chestnut, Guiana Chestnut, Provision tree, Saba Nut|
Growth Habit: The Malabar chestnut is a very showy evergreen tree with greenish bark that can grow to 60 ft. in the tropics. In California the growth is more like 10 to 15 ft. tall with a spread of 8 to 10 feet.
Foliage: The shiny, bright green, alternate palmately compound leaves of the Malabar chestnut grow to about 12 inches long and are quickly shed. They are larger and showier than Chorisia speciosa, the popular floss-silk tree. Young leaves and flowers are cooked and used as a vegetable.
Flowers: The petals of the very large creamy white flowers of the Malabar chestnut curl back to the base of the flower, leaving only the spectacular clusters of 3 to 4 inch cream-white stamens.
Fruit: The five-valved fruit of Malabar chestnut is an ovoid, woody green pod which may reach 4 to 12 inches in length and 2 to 2-1/2 inches in diameter, bearing some resemblance to kapok or silk floss seed pods. The tightly packed seeds (nuts) inside enlarge until the pod bursts and the seed fall to the ground. The rounded seeds are without floss and 1/2 inch or larger in diameter. They are edible raw or roasted.
Adaption: Tropical estuaries are the native habitat of the Malabar chestnut, so it is perhaps best suited to Hawaii and southern Florida. Even so, the plant also grows well in the milder parts of southern California. Several handsome specimens are thriving in the Quail Gardens collection near Encinitas, Calif., which has more cold and wind than many home gardens. The plant will tolerate brief exposure to temperatures as low as 28° F, but may drop some or most of its leaves. Malabar chestnuts make attractive potted plants and add an attractive tropical note to patios and sun rooms.
Common names include: Money Tree, Malabar Chestnut, Guiana Chestnut, Guyana Chestnut, Provision tree, Saba Nut, Money Plant
- More information about this species can be found on the genus page.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Pachira aquatica, Aubl. (P. grandiflora, Tussac). A small tree: lvs. 5-7 (9) -foliolate; lfts. subsessile, obovate to elliptic-lanceolate, glabrous, 4-12 in. long: fls. 8 1/2-14 in. long; calyx tubulose-truncate, often warty at the base; petals laciniate, more or less deeply pinkish or purplish; staminal tube long, the red or scarlet filaments about as long as the petals: caps. 7-15 in. long, 3-5 in. diam. Trop. Amer., including W. Indies.—P. aquatica varies considerably according to the nature of the soil in which it grows and to its environment, and it is not unlikely that most so-called species described in horticultural reviews should be considered as simple varieties of the same. This species is the best known in the genus and its area of distribution is very extensive; its cult, in hothouses has been often attempted.
Location: A frost-free location with some protection from hot, drying winds is the best choice for the plant. It will take full sun to partial shade. Overall, the tree is a handsome landscape addition.
Soils: Malabar chestnuts are not overly fussy about soil as long as it is well drained.
Irrigation: The Malabar chestnut needs consistent and regular watering, although logic would suggest that in California the plant should be kept on the dry side during the cold winter months.
Fertilization: Malabar chestnuts need only a light monthly fertilizing with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer during the warm months.
Pruning: The Malabar chestnut seldom needs pruning.
Harvest: The nuts of the Malabar chestnut are harvested when the seed pods burst. The raw nuts taste like peanuts and will keep for months in a cool, dry place. Roasted or fried in oil they have the flavor of chestnuts, and can be ground into a flour for bread baking.
The tree may be propagated by seed and cuttings, and probably by air-layering.
Pests and diseases
The Malabar chestnut appears to be largely free of pests and diseases in California. Container specimens should be watched for usual house plant pests such as mealybugs.
- w:Pachira aquatica. Some of the material on this page may be from Wikipedia, under the Creative Commons license.
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