Common Names: water chestnut, Guiana chestnut, Malabar chestnut,
money tree, saba nut
Family: Bombacaceae (bombax or baobab Family)
Can be Grown in Containers Grows Well
Indoors. Edible Plant Has evergreen foliage Flowers Fragrant
water chestnut tree
Guiana chestnut is a spreading tree that grows to 60 ft (15 m) in
the wild, but it is usually more like a large shrub in cultivation.
It has greenish bark and shiny, dark green, compound, 8-10 in (20-25
cm) leaves that look like those of a schefflera (Schefflera
actinophylla). The flowers emerge from 14 in (35.6 cm) long buds.
They are usually almost hidden by the dense foliage, which stays on
the tree during the bloom period, unlike that of similar Bombax and
Chorisia species. The cream colored petals of the large flowers
droop and disappear to show off dramatic clusters of 3-4 in (7.6-10
cm) crimson-tipped, off-white stamens. They are followed by football
shaped woody pods which may reach 12 in (30.5 cm) in length and 5 in
(12.7 cm)inches in diameter. Tightly packed nuts within the pod
enlarge until about a 0.5 in (1.3 cm) in diameter and the pod bursts
Guiana chestnut is native to Central America and northern South
America. It is cultivated in many tropical regions, including Hawaii
and Southern California. In the wild, Pachira aquatica is a wetland
tree that grows in freshwater swamps associated with tropical
estuaries. It often grows alongside rivers, where its branches arch
out over the water.
The woody husk of the ripening fruit is cracking open to reveal the
edible nuts inside.
Guiana chestnut does best in locations protected from drying winds.
It should be fertilized frequently during the growing season. This
tree seldom needs pruning.
Light: Guiana chestnut may be grown in full sun to partial shade.
Moisture: Pachira aquatica prefers a site that is flooded much of
the time and may develop stilt roots under such conditions. Like
most swamp trees, it is likely to grow faster if planted where the
water will recede and let the roots get some oxygen now and then.
When grown on an upland site, Guiana chestnut requires frequent and
generous watering. Treat it like you would a very frost-tender baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) tree.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 10 - 11. Guiana chestnut will tolerate brief
exposure to temperatures as low as 28ºF (-2.2ºC), but may drop some
Propagation: Plants are easily started from seed and will root from
This water chestnut's attractively flared trunk luxuriates in a
lovely lakeside location.
Guiana chestnut is grown both for tropical effect and for its edible
nuts. It can also be potted up as a houseplant. The nuts taste sort
of like peanuts. They are harvested when the seed pods burst and
eaten raw, roasted, or fried. They also can be ground into a flour
for baking bread. The young leaves and flowers may be cooked and
used as a vegetable.
If you live in a flood prone tropical area where "well drained soil"
is a scarce commodity, Guiana chestnut is an interesting food
producing tree that won't take up space on your precious high
ground. Plant it along the edge of a pond or swamp and watch it grow
happily in standing water.