Know about the Malabar chestnut

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Malabar chestnut Quick Facts
Name: Malabar chestnut
Scientific Name: Pachira aquatica
Origin Southern parts of Mexico to Northern Peru and Northern Brazil.
Colors Brown
Shapes Pyriform, ellipsoid or subglobose, egg-shaped
Flesh colors Olive-green
The tree of Malabar chestnut reaches 30-60 feet (9-18 m) tall with smooth and greenish gray trunk which is swollen at the base. Leaves are alternate, compound, 6-11 inches (15-28 cm) in length with 5-9 leaflets. Flowers are large, showy, perfect and terminal with long peduncle. The stamens and petals are white and numerous. Fruit is smooth and green capsule about 4-8 inches long and splits or opens naturally when ripe. Seed are irregular, rounded with 10-25 per fruit which is about 1 inch in diameter having light brown testa. Fruit is a pod which has similar texture and shape of cacao and turns reddish-brown and opens to expose large seeds. Seeds are consumed raw or roasted. This tree grows alongside rivers and estuaries and tropical swamps in the native range. It expands from sea level to 1300 meters in frost free areas with average temperatures of 24°C or higher. This hardy plant does well to various conditions and is drought tolerant and shade and is sold as ornamental houseplants in many countries.

Plant description

Pachira aquatic is a small to medium sized and much branched deciduous tree which reaches to the height of 17 meters having stout trunk of 90 cm diameter and buttress base. Bark is greenish when young and grey when mature. The petioles are tomentose and 11-15 cm long. Leaves are palmately compound, alternate and have 5–11 leaflets and 11–15 cm long or tomentose petioles. Leaflets are elliptic oblong or ovate-elliptical, lustrous green and about 13–28 cm long by 5–8 cm wide. Flowers are large, solitary, showy, olive green and up to 31 cm long. Fruit is ellipsoid or subglobose, pyriform dehiscent capsule upto 30 cm long by 12 cm thick, hard and olive green when immature that turns to dark brown. Fruits have five valves which is packed with numerous seeds in non-fibrous pulp. Seeds are subglobose, about 2.5 cm by 1.5–2 cm and dark brown with white spiral markings.


Flowers have large, creamy white petals which curl back to the base of the flower and leaves spectacular clusters of 7.5 to 10cm cream-white stamens.


Fruit is five valved, woody green pod which reaches 30 cm long and 6 cm in diameter. Seeds are tightly packed and the pods burst causing the seeds to fall in the ground. Seeds are rounded and edible raw or roasted.

Traditional uses

  • The skin of immature green fruit is used for treating hepatitis.
  • Use the bark medicinally for treating headaches and stomach complaints.
  • Tisane obtained from boiled bark is used as a tonic for blood.
  • Infusion of crushed leaves is used for treating burning sensation in the skin.
  • Immature fruit skin is used for treating hepatitis.
  • Use the bark for treating headaches and stomach complaints.
  • The decoction made from bark is used for treating high blood pressure, anemia, general debility and fatigue.

Culinary uses

  • Roast the seeds or fry it in oil.
  • Roasted seeds are used for preparing beverages.
  • Seeds are grounded into flour and used for making breads.
  • Cook young leaves and flowers and consume it as vegetable.
  • Add it to salads, stir fries and consume it as snack or ground and made into hot drink.






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