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Pachira aquatica - Malabar chestnut (Money tree)


Native to:



Central and southern Central America, northern South America

Tropical ornamental in moist, frost-free areas. 0-1200 meters above sea level. 12 meters tall.

Pachira aquatica - Malabar chestnut (Money tree)

Ecological value:

Cultivated as an ornamental and as a cropper. Fast growing tree - reaches 3.5 meters within 2 years from seed. Pollinated by bats, honeybees and sphingid moths. Tolerates a wide range of humidity levels and temperatures. Once established, the tree is drought tolerant.

Material uses:

Fiber obtained from inner bark can be used in paper-making (36% cellulose paste). Oil can be extracted from seed. Yellow dye from bark. Red dye. The oil can be potentially used in soap making.
Wood of low quality.

Edible uses:

Seed/nut, eaten raw or roasted, or ground into a flour for baking bread. When roasted has the flavor of chestnuts - some say of cocoa. Young leaves and flowers cooked. Seeds yield 58% of a white fat, suitable for cooking.

Medicinal use:

Used to treat hepatitis. Seeds can be used as an anesthetic.

Other details:

Planted as a street tree to provide shade, and ornamental garden tree. Starts flowering around 4 years old. 77 species have been identified within this genus. Timber, cordage and seeds for stuffing pillows are common uses of this species.


Hyunjung Kim/Christine Facella


“Pachira Aquatica - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d.
Lorenzi. H., ‘Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition’, Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil, 2002
Facciola. S., ‘Cornucopia II’, Kampong Publications, California, 1998
Brande, William Thomas. 1866. A Dictionary of Science, Literature, & Art: Comprising the Definitions and Derivations of the Scientific Terms in General Use, Together with the History and Descriptions of the Scientific Principles of Nearly Every Branch of Human Knowledge. Google Books. Longmans, Green and Company.
Image source: Hans Hillewaert.

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