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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


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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.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10 and is frost tender.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (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: 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 ].


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


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Other Uses


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


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.


Temperature Converter

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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,

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.


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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.

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