English: French peanut, Guinea peanut, money tree, lucky tree
Spanish: maní francés, árbol de dinero, árbol de la suerte
Portuguese (Brazil): castanha-do-maranhão, castanha-da-praia, cacau-do-maranhão, mamorana, amendoim-de-árvore, cacau selvagem
Origin and Distribution
Native to Brazil. Sporadically grown throughout the tropics and subtropics, and used as a house plant in temperate regions.
Bombax glabrum and Bombacopsis glabra. Bombax glabra is also used, but is not a valid name.
Medium sized tree, reaching from 30-60 feet (9-18 m) tall. The trunk is smooth and greenish gray, and
often swollen at the base. The alternate leaves are 6-11 inches (15-28 cm) in length and compound, with 5-9
leaflets. The large and showy flowers are perfect and
terminal, with a long peduncle. The petals and
numerous stamens are white. The fruit is a smooth,
green capsule, 4-8 inches (10-20 cm) in length, and
Propagation and Culture
Propagated from seed, cuttings or airlayers. The seeds germinate quickly and are fast growing. Pachira
glabra is tropical, growing naturally along rivers and
other bodies of water. It is very adaptable to
different soil types, grows well in full sun or
partial shade, and is resistant to both drought and
flooding. Trees begin to fruit at about 4-5 years, a
Cultivars and Related Species
There are no named cultivars of Pachira glabra.
The genus Pachira has 24 species, three of which have
edible seeds: Pachira glabra, P. aquatica and P. insignis. Pachira aquatica
(Guiana chestnut, Malabar chestnut, provision tree, or sabanut)
has white, cream, or
greenish petals, with stamens that are basally white
or yellow, and reddish apically. The fruit is dark
brown and tomentose, about 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) long. Seeds are angular and large, about 1.5-2 inches (4-5 cm)
long. Pachira insignis has thick orange or dark brown petals with whitish or orange red stamens and a dark
brown, rounded fruit.
The seeds are delicious raw, boiled, fried or roasted. The flavor is similar to peanut. Roasted seeds can also be ground to make a hot drink similar to hot chocolate. Young leaves and flowers are also edible. The seeds contain 16% protein and 40-50% fat.
The attractive trees are easily grown in pots, and are cultured in bonsai form as “lucky trees” or “money trees”.
The bark is used to treat stomach problems and headaches, and is taken to “fortify the blood”.
More information on edible Pachira species
Photos of flowers and fruits of Pachira aquatica by the Missouri Botanical Garden (click on the "Images" box).
Photos of flowers of Pachira insignis by the Missouri Botanical Garden (click on the "Images" box).
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