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Enterolobium cyclocarpum - (Jacq.) Griseb.

Common Name Devil's Ear. Earpod tree
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The dust from sawmilling can cause allergies[325 ]. The sawdust has been used as a fish poison[420 ]. It is also said to be able to kill mammals[420 ].
Habitats A climax, dominant species in subtropical, dry forest zones, restricted to disturbed areas in wetter forest types[303 ]. Dry lowland forests and savannahs[307 ]. Dry hillsides and by streams, usually below elevations of 300 metres in Guatemala[331 ]. A tropical plant. It is native to tropical America. It grows in dry, lowland forest and savannah. It can tolerate drought. It has some salt tolerance. In Costa Rica it grows from sea level to 1,300 m altitude. It can grow in arid places.
Range S. America - northwest Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia, north through Central America to Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Enterolobium cyclocarpum Devil

Enterolobium cyclocarpum Devil
flickr.com jayeshpatil912


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Enterolobium cyclocarpum is a deciduous Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 30 m (98ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Albizia longipes Britton & Killip Inga cyclocarpa (Jacq.) Willd. Mimosa cyclocarpa Jacq. Mimosa cyclocarpa Jacq.; Albizia longipes Britton & Killip; Feuilleea cyclocarpa (Jacq.) Kuntze; Inga cyclocarpa (Jacq.) Willd.; Mimosa parota Sesse & Mocino; Pithecellobium cyclocarpum (Jacq.) Martius; Prosopis dubia Kunth.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed  Seedpod
Edible Uses: Coffee  Gum

Edible Portion: Seeds, Pods, Fruit, Vegetable. The young seedpods and seeds are cooked and eaten as a vegetable[46 , 303 ]. The yellow layer of the young pods is eaten. The seeds are about 20 x 15mm, and are contained in a distinctive, thickened, contorted, indehiscent pod that resembles an ear in form[303 ]. The seeds are roasted and ground[303 , 307 ]. The seed coat is removed and then the seeds are roasted and used like coffee. The pulp in the pods is sometimes eaten in times of food shortage[331 ]. Caution: They contain saponins and can be poisonous. I assume that it needs to be cooked first, since it is rich in saponins and these are destroyed by heat[K ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

A syrup obtained from the bark is used in the treatment of colds[46 ]. A gum obtained from the trunk is used as a remedy for affections of the chest[332 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Fodder  Fuel  Gum  Hedge  Paper  Soap  Tannin  Wood

Design: Botanical collection; Public open space; Xerophytic. Agroforestry Uses: The wide-spreading but light canopy, and ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, makes it an ideal shade tree for perennial crops such as coffee[303 , 310 ]. Combined with its ability to sprout vigorously when coppiced, the tree has a possible role as a hedgerow species in alley-cropping systems[303 ]. Other Uses: The bark and fruit are used locally as a soap[303 , 307 ]. Used especially to cleanse woollen goods[46 ]. The fruit and bark contain tannins[307 ]. A gum, called 'Goma de Caro', is obtained from the tree[46 ]. It can be substituted for gum arabic (from Acacia senegal)[307 ]. Local craftspeople often polish the seedpods and sell them to tourists[307 ]. The heartwood is walnut-brown often with various shadings, sometimes with a reddish tinge; it merges gradually into the dull white sapwood. The texture is coarse; grain is straight to somewhat roey; lustre rather high; without distinctive odour or taste. The wood is very light in weight; it varies from soft and spongy to moderately hard and firm; is generally moderately durable, but is very durable in water; resistant to attack by dry-wood termites and Lyctus. It is very easy to work; the harder kinds take a good polish; is readily seasoned without warping or checking. The heavier material resembles walnut (Juglans spp.) in general appearance, and is a fairly satisfactory substitute for it. It has been used to a considerable extent for interior trim in residences and office buildings. The wood is highly esteemed for all sorts of construction purposes. From it are made the mortars used for hulling rice and coffee, the omnipresent washboards or trays, and dugout canoes, often very large ones. For construction purposes it is considered about as good as cedro (Cedrela spp), and it is valued especially because it is little injured by dampness and is not attacked by termites[46 , 303 , 331 ]. The pulped wood has been found excellent for producing quality paper[303 ]. The wood is considered to be a very good fuel[331 ].Young fruit and leaves are good animal fodder (some reports from Brazil that this has led to lesions in livestock. Insect nectar.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Coppice  Food Forest  Hedge  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Fodder: Bank  Fodder: Pod  Management: Standard  Regional Crop

A plant of low to medium elevations in the drier to moist tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,200 metres[303 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 23 - 28°c, but can tolerate 18 - 36°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 750 - 2,500mm, but tolerates 600 - 3,000mm[418 ]. It is normally found in areas where there is a dry season of 1 - 6 months[303 ]. Prefers a fertile, well-drained soil and a position in full sun[307 ]. Seedlings grow best in a moderately sunny position[331 ]. Medium-textured soils are probably best, but eroded ultasols, deep moist clays, shallow sandy clays and porous limestone all allow good development[418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 4.5 - 8, tolerating 4 - 8.5[418 ]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[307 ]. Although generally considered to have been introduced throughout the tropics, mainly as a roadside or garden tree, it is apparently little known or used outside its native range and has never been planted on a large scale[303 ]. It has been tested in plantations in Puerto, Ghana and sporadically elsewhere[303 ]. Trees resprout vigorously after coppicing or lopping[303 ]. Adult trees produce about 2,000 pods, each with 10 - 16 seeds[303 ]. This tree has been adopted as the national tree of Costa Rica[325 ]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[755 ] It is a fast growing tree. It takes 5 years before fruiting. Can suffer from fungal disease (reports from Puerto Rico).

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Fodder: Bank  Fodder banks are plantings of high-quality fodder species. Their goal is to maintain healthy productive animals. They can be utilized all year, but are designed to bridge the forage scarcity of annual dry seasons. Fodder bank plants are usually trees or shrubs, and often legumes. The relatively deep roots of these woody perennials allow them to reach soil nutrients and moisture not available to grasses and herbaceous plants.
  • Fodder: Pod  Fodder plants with pods.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - the seed coat is extremely thick and hard and seeds will not germinate unless they are treated to allow water to enter. This can be done by carefully cutting off a small part of the seed coat at the end away from the micropyle (scar), being careful not to damage the embryo, then soaking for a few hours in warm water. For larger amounts a suitable method is to soak the seeds for 30 seconds in water that is close to the boiling point followed by soaking for 24 hours in water at room temperature[325 ]. Seed should be sown at a depth of 1 - 2 cm with the micropyle (scar) pointing downwards otherwise the root may grow upwards and out of the soil. Germination is fast, it starts after about four days and is normally complete after 10 days. Germination is good, about 85%. The seedlings require little shade in the nursery. They are ready for planting in the field after six months. Early growth of the seedlings is exceptionally rapid and vigorous and this continues several months after outplanting but then growth rate, although still vigorous, falls to a level similar to other fast-growing species. The species is light-demanding at all stages in its development and it is susceptible to weed competition during early growth[325 ]. Natural regeneration is not seen in forests, Seeds are most easily collected from pods that have fallen to the ground[303 ]. Seed storage behaviour is orthodox; seeds tolerate desiccation to 10.7% mc[303 ]. Seeds remain viable for several years under cool, dry conditions and can be easily stored under normal conditions[303 ]. Natural regeneration is infrequent for several reasons[303 ]. The seeds are spread principally by grazing animals, and after germination are always browsed off. They are also susceptible to fire, excessive shade, drought and competition from grasses[303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Conacaste, Corotu, Elephant's-ear, Guanacaste, Mulatto ear, Nacaste, Pheoheo, Pohon sengon. Mexican walnut tree, Pitchwood tree

Africa, Antilles, Asia, Australia, Belize, Brazil, Central America*, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Ghana, Guatemala, Guianas, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mexico*, Myanmar, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, North Africa, North America, Pacific, Panama, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Peru, Puerto Rico, Reunion, SE Asia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South America, Suriname, Trinidad-Tobago, USA, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Africa, West Indies

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(Jacq.) Griseb.

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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