Pachira glabra (syn. Bombacopsis glabra) is a tropical wetland tree in the mallow family Malvaceae, native to eastern Brazil, where it grows along rivers and other waterways. It is generally known by the nonscientific names Guinea peanut, French peanut, Saba nut, money tree, and lucky tree. It shares many of these common names with Pachira aquatica, the Malabar chestnut, which is quite similar looking, has similar culinary and ornamental uses, and is often confused with P. glabra.
Pachira glabra reaches heights of 9–18 meters (30–60 ft), and its leaves are compound with a fan of 5 to 9 leaflets. It has smooth greenish-gray bark and the trunks are often swollen at the base, even at a young age. Its large, white, fragrant flowers bloom on a long, terminal peduncle, opening at night and dropping by the middle of the following day. Its 10–20-centimeter-long (4–8 in) smooth green fruit split open naturally to reveal 10 to 25 irregularly rounded brown seeds that are roughly 2.5 centimeters (1 in) in diameter.
P. glabra is grown in West and Central Africa as a foodcrop. The seeds are rich in oil and contain 16% protein and 40–50% fat. The seeds taste similar to peanuts and are typically boiled or roasted, with the roasted seeds sometimes ground to make a hot drink. The young leaves and flowers are also edible.
As an ornamental plantEdit
Young P. glabra trees can easily be grown in flowerpots and survive a range of conditions as long as they remain above freezing temperatures. They are marketed commercially as ornamentals with several small trees in a single flowerpot, their trunks braided; specimens are similar in appearance to P. aquatica and many small ornamentals sold as P. aquatica are actually P. glabra.[nb 1] However, P. aquatica has woody gray bark, while P. glabra's is a smoother greenish-gray, and P. aquatica will only develop a swollen trunk with age. Likewise, the flowers of P. aquatica feature red-tipped petals and red anthers, whereas the flowers of P. glabra are all white. In addition, the P. aquatica blooms last marginally longer during than those of P. glabra. P. glabra seeds are green rather than brown and half the size of those of P. aquatica. Seed yields are also lower than those of P. aquatica.
- Even in Taiwan, where commercial ornamental cultivation of the "Malabar chestnut" (馬拉巴栗) began, the plants are usually P. glabra rather than P. aquatica.
- "Pachira glabra Pasq." at the Plant List. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
- Odilo Duarte and Robert E. Paull. "Pachira aquatica/Malabar chestnut Pachira insignis/wild chestnut." The Encyclopedia of Fruit and Nuts. Jules Janick and Robert E. Paull, eds. CABI, 2008. p. 183. ISBN 9780851996387
- "Pachira glabra Pasq." at Plant Biodiversity Conservatory and Research Core of University of Connecticut. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
- "Pachira glabra - Pasq." at Plants For A Future. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
- Edible Plants at Hawaiian Tropical Plant Nursery. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
- 馬拉巴栗 at HK Tree.com. Retrieved 10 May 2020. (in Chinese)
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- Money Tree Plant – Pachira glabra: Distinguishing Pachira glabra and Pachira aquatica
- Photographs of Pachira glabra and P. aquatica flowers