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Trichanthera gigantea - (Humb. & Bonpl.) Nees

Common Name Giant trichanthera, Nacadero
Family Acanthaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Streams and swampy areas and wet forests at low elevations[418 ]. Along roadsides, in clearings, swampy areas, forests and thickets[428 ].
Range S. America - Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Guyana; C. America - Panama, Costa Rica.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Trichanthera gigantea Giant trichanthera, Nacadero

Trichanthera gigantea Giant trichanthera, Nacadero
Wikimedia.org - Dick Culbert from Gibsons, B.C., Canada


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Trichanthera gigantea is a deciduous Tree growing to 5 m (16ft) by 4 m (13ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bats, Birds, Ants, Bees. The plant is not self-fertile.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Besleria surinamensis Miq. Clerodendrum verrucosum Splitg. ex de Vriese Ruellia gigantea Humb. & Bonpl.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Shoots
Edible Uses:

Sprouts are eaten in maize porridge[418 ]. This almost certainly refers to the young shoots, since it is very difficult to germinate the seed[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.
Blood tonic  Galactogogue

The plant is a blood tonic and galactagogue. It is used to treat nephritis and to promote the flow of milk in nursing mothers[415 ]. The plant is given to domestic animals, it is used to treat colic and hernia in horses, and retained placenta in cows[415 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
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Other Uses

Charcoal  Fencing  Fodder  Fuel  Hedge  Pioneer  Soil stabilization  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: The plant is used as a hedge or living fence; as a shade tree in coffee plantations; and to prevent stream bank erosion[418 ]. The plant can be grown in association with a range of over-story agroforestry species due to its shade tolerance. It has been grown underneath bananas, Leucaena and Gliricidias[415 ]. A fast-growing plant, it can be used as a pioneer species when restoring naive woodland[625 ]. Other Uses: The wood is cream-coloured or pale brown, with no sharp distinction between the sapwood and heartwood. It has a slightly foetid odour, but no distinctive taste; is straight-or wavy-grained; coarse-textured; light in weight and rather soft, but strong for its weight[453 ]. It requires a sharp knife to cut smoothly across the grain; stains readily in drying[453 ]. Of low quality, it is only suitable for making light packing boxes or similar unfinished products[625 ]. The wood is used for fuel and to make charcoal[625 ]. Cultivated as an animal fodder and fed to ducks, pigs, and rabbits. Its leaves are relatively rich in protein. It has veterinary uses in Colombia, where it has been used to treat horse colic and retained placenta in cows.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Coppice  Food Forest  Hedge  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Fodder: Bank  Management: Coppice  Minor Global Crop

A plant of the humid, lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 400 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 27 - 33°c, but can tolerate 20 - 38°c[418 ]. The plant can survive temperatures down to about -1°c[418 ]. The plant does not tolerate frost[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,500 - 3,000mm, but tolerates 1,000 - 5,000mm[418 ]. Growing well in full sun, the plant also has considerable shade tolerance[418 ]. It is well adapted to acid infertile soils[418 ]. Although commonly found on stream banks, the plant requires well-drained soils[418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.5 - 7[418 ]. A fast-growing plant[625 ]. The vigorous regrowth of the plant under heavy cutting regimes has led to speculation that nitrogen fixation may occur through the action of mycorrhiza or other organisms[415 ]

Carbon Farming

  • 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.
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a partially shaded position in a nursery seedbed[625 ]. Germination rates are very poor, generally 0 - 2%[337 , 415 ], with the seed sprouting within 25 - 35 days[337 ]. Seedlings are usually ready to be planted out about 6 months after germination[337 ]. Stem cuttings will readily form roots in full sun or in light shade[415 ]. Cuttings 2.2 - 2.8mm in diameter, 20cm long and with at least 2 leaf buds are the most effective in striking roots, with a success rate of 92%[415 ]. Larger stem cuttings that are more than 1 metre long and 2cm in diameter can also be used in order to quickly produce a living fence[337 ]. Stems that contact the ground, either through bending or breakage, will root at the nodes to form new plants[415 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Aro, Asedera, Barriga, Yatago, Madre de agua, Suiban, Cenicero, Tuno, Naranjillo, and Palo de agua.

Bolivia, Brazil, Central America, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guianas, Guyana, Panama, Peru, South America, Suriname

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


(Humb. & Bonpl.) Nees

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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