We depend on donations from users of our database of over 8000 edible and useful plants to keep making it available free of charge and to further extend and improve it. In recent months donations are down, and we are spending more than we receive. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Pachira insignis - (Sw.) Savigny

Common Name Malabar Chestnut
Family Malvaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Humid upland rainforests, mainly in dense primary forest or late-stage secondary formations in Brazil[625 ]. Wet, lowland, tropical rainforests at elevations up to 500 metres[362 ].
Range S. America - Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas; Caribbean - West Indies.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Pachira insignis Malabar Chestnut

Pachira insignis Malabar Chestnut
Veronidae wikimedia.org


Translate this page:


Pachira insignis or commonly known as Malabar Chestnut or Wild Chestnut is a fast-growing evergreen or semi-deciduous tree with a dense and round crown, growing up to 18 m tall and up to 60 cm in trunk diameter. It can be found in South America where it is grown for food and as an ornamental. The seeds can be eaten raw or cooked. It can be roasted or ground into powder. Young leaves and flowers are also edible. The wood is light and of low value. It is used to make toys, boxes, door, panel fillings, etc., and for paper production.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Pachira insignis is an evergreen Tree growing to 15 m (49ft) by 15 m (49ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10 and is frost tender.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Bombax affine (Mart. & Zucc.) Ducke Bombax spectabile Ulbr. Bombax spruceanum Ducke Carolinea affini


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Chocolate  Drink  Oil

Seeds - raw or cooked[301 , 377 ]. Eaten raw, they are said to taste a bit like peanuts, whilst the cooked seeds are like chestnuts[377 ]. The seeds can be roasted and used like cocoa[301 , 317 ]. The seeds can also be ground into a powder and used as flour-substitute in bread[362 ]. The seeds contain about 50% oil[317 ]. The large seeds can be up to 8cm in diameter, and are contained in a woody capsule that can be 30cm in diameter and weigh more than 3 kilos[377 , 625 ]. Young leaves[301 ]. Flowers[301 ].

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.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

Now available: PLANTS FOR YOUR FOOD FOREST: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens.

An important new book from PFAF. It focuses on the attributes of plants suitable for food forests, what each can contribute to a food forest ecosystem, including carbon sequestration, and the kinds of foods they yield. The book suggests that community and small-scale food forests can provide a real alternative to intensive industrialised agriculture, and help to combat the many inter-related environmental crises that threaten the very future of life on Earth.

Read More


Other Uses

Containers  Oil  Paper  Wood

Other Uses The wood is light, straight-grained, coarse-textured, easy to cut but with a low resistance to rot[625 ]. A low value timber, it is used to make toys, boxes, door and panel fillings etc[625 ]. It is useful for the production of paper[317 ].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the moist tropics. It is said to be able to tolerate occasional drops in temperature to just below freezing[377 ]. Grows well in a sunny position and in partial shade[377 , 625 ]. Prefers a clay, well-watered soil[625 ]. Prefers a well-drained soil[362 ]. Plants can tolerate periodic inundation, but also need some time when the soil becomes drier[377 ]. They grow well on the banks of rivers[377 ]. A fast-growing tree[625 ]. Bloom Color: White/Near White.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

Shop Now


Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe. Sow the seed in a partially shaded position in individual containers. Germination rates are usually extremely good, with the seeds sprouting within 10 - 15 days. The seedlings develop quickly[625 ]. Cuttings Air layering.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Malabar Chestnut, Wild Chestnut, Boesimomow, Kanihiriballi, Mamorana Grande, Trinidad pachira,

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Antilles, Asia, Australia, Bolivia, Central America, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Guiana, Guyana, Haiti, Indochina, Mexico, North America, Peru, SE Asia, South America, St Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, 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.

Conservation Status

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

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Pachira glabraSaba Nut, American ChestnutTree15.0 10-12 FLMHSNDM303

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.


Print Friendly and PDF

Expert comment


(Sw.) Savigny

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.

Readers comment

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Pachira insignis  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.