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Pithecellobium dulce
Pithecellobium dulce tree
In Kolkata, West Bengal (India)
Pithecellobium dulce beans.JPG
ripe Pithecellobium dulce bean

Secure (NatureServe)[1]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Pithecellobium
Species: P. dulce
Binomial name
Pithecellobium dulce
(Roxb.) Benth.[2]

Pithecellobium dulce is a species of flowering plant in the pea family, Fabaceae, that is native to the Pacific Coast and adjacent highlands of Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.[2] It is an Introduced species and extensively naturalized in the Caribbean, Florida, Guam, India, Bangladesh, Thailand and the Philippines. It is considered an invasive species in Hawaii.



Pithecellobium dulce is a tree that reaches a height of about 10 to 15 m (33 to 49 ft). Its trunk is spiny and its leaves are bipinnate. Each pinna has a single pair of ovate-oblong leaflets that are about 2 to 4 cm (0.79 to 1.57 in) long. The flowers are greenish-white, fragrant, sessile and reach about 12 cm (4.7 in) in length, though appear shorter due to coiling. The flowers produce a pod, which turns pink when ripe and opens to expose an edible pulp. The pulp contains black shiny seeds that are circular and flat.

The seed is dispersed via birds that feed on the sweet pulp. The tree is drought resistant and can survive in dry lands from sea level to an elevation of 1,500 m (4,900 ft), making it suitable for cultivation as a street tree.

Vernacular namesEdit

Depending on the region of its occurrence, Pithecellobium dulce is known by different names. In its native Mexico, the tree is known as huamuche, guamuche / huamúchil/ guamúchil / cuamúchil / deriving from its Nahuatl name cuauhmochitl. In the wider region, it is also called "pinzán"', or 'guamá americano (Puerto Rico).

It is called "seema chintakaya" (సీమ చింతకాయ) in Telugu. Monkeypod is an English name[3] but is also used for several other plants, including Albizia saman. Other names include blackbead, sweet Inga,[2] ផ្លែអំពិលទឹក (Plaeh umpel tek) (Khmer), Makham thet i.e. Foreign Tamarind (Thai: มะขามเทศ), ʻopiuma (Hawaiian), kamunsil (Hiligaynon), damortis or kamantiris (Ilokano), kamachile (Tagalog),[4] கொர்கலிக்காய்/ கோணக்காய்/ கோன புளியங்கா/ கொடுக்காப்புளி / கொடிக்காய் kodukkappuli or kodikkai (Tamil), ದೊರ ಹುಣಸೆ/ಸೀಮೆ ಹುಣಸೆ/ಇಲಾಚಿ ಕಾಯಿ/ಇಲಾಚ್-ಹುಂಚಿ ಕಾಯಿ dora hunase or seeme hunase or ilaichi kai or ilach-hunchi kai (Kannada), વિલાયતી આંબલી i.e. Foreign Tamarind - "બખાઇ આમ્બલી" i.e. "Bakhai Ambli" or Goras ambli (Gujarati), जलेबी i.e. Jalebi like or गंगा इमली i.e. Ganges Tamarind or विलायती इमली i.e. Foreign Tamarind or "'Singri"' i.e. "सिंगड़ी" (Hindi), জিলাপি i.e. Jilapi meaning Jalebi (Bengali), seeme hunase (Kannada), चिंच बुलाई or विलायती चिंच i.e. Foreign Tamarind" or "फिरंगी चिंच (Marathi) and "Achhi gidamiri" (Sindhi). In odisha, it is called Seema Kaiyan(Odia).

In India, it goes by the name "Madras thorn", although it is not native to Madras. The name "Manila tamarind" is also misleading, since it is neither closely related to tamarind nor native to Manila.

In Kuwait, it has the same name as in India but in Arabic "Showkat Madras". Showkat meaning "thorn" and that would mean Madras Thorn. It appears to have been introduced in Kuwait in the 60's or 70's and maybe introduced by Indians. One can still see the remains of the tree or living trees in the public parks established during the 60's up until the 1980s in Kuwait City. The tree is rarely sold in commercial nurseries but the old gardeners seem to know it.


As foodEdit

The seed pods contain a sweet and sour pulp which is eaten raw in Mexico as an accompaniment to various meat dishes and used as a base for drinks with sugar and water ('agua de guamúchil'). The seeds are also edible and refined to extract oil, which amounts to 10% of their weight. They also contain 28% protein.[5]

As medicineEdit

The bark and pulp are astringent and hemostatic.[medical citation needed] The indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica use the pulp and bark against gum ailments, toothache, and hemorrhages in general.[citation needed] A bark extract is also used against dysentery, chronic diarrhea, and tuberculosis.[medical citation needed] An extract of the leaves is used for gall ailments and to prevent miscarriage.[medical citation needed] The ground seed is used to clean ulcers.[5]


Pithecellobium dulce is a host plant for the caterpillars of the red-bordered pixie (Melanis pixe), three-spot grass yellow (Eurema blanda) and many other moths.[6]


Pithecellobium dulce, Heritage Tree, Madras Thorn, Fort Canning, Singapore

Pithecellobium dulce is known under numerous junior synonyms:[7]

  • Acacia obliquifolia M.Martens & Galeotti
  • Day man " شجرة الديمان " Yemen, Adenاليمن, عدن
  • Albizia dulcis (Roxb.) F.Muell.
  • Feuilleea dulcis (Roxb.) Kuntze
  • Inga camatchili Perr.
  • Inga dulcis (Roxb.) Willd.
  • Inga javana DC.
  • Inga javanica DC.
  • Inga lanceolata sensu Blanco
  • Inga lanceolata Willd. is Pithecellobium lanceolatum
  • Inga leucantha C.Presl
  • Inga pungens Willd.
  • Mimosa dulcis Roxb.
  • Mimosa edulis Gagnep.
  • Mimosa pungens (Willd.) Poir.
  • Mimosa unguis-cati Blanco
  • Mimosa unguis-cati L. is Pithecellobium unguis-cati
  • Pithecellobium littorale Record
  • Pithecollobium dulce (Roxb.) Benth. (lapsus)


  1. ^ "Pithecellobium dulce - (Roxb.) Benth. Guama Americano". NatureServe Explorer. NatureServe. Retrieved 2010-09-19. 
  2. ^ a b c "Pithecellobium dulce". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2010-03-29. 
  3. ^ "Pithecellobium dulce". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 6 October 2015. 
  4. ^ Grandtner, Miroslav M. (2005). Elsevier's Dictionary of Trees: With Names in Latin, English, French, Spanish and Other Languages. 1. Elsevier. pp. 670–671. ISBN 978-0-444-51784-5. 
  5. ^ a b Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity: Pithecellobium Dulce:
  6. ^ "Red-bordered Pixie Melanis pixe (Boisduval, 1836)". Butterflies and Moths of North America. Retrieved 2010-09-19. 
  7. ^ International Legume Database & Information Service (ILDIS) (2005): Pithecellobium dulce. Version 10.01, November 2005. Retrieved 2008-MAR-30.

External linksEdit