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Chrysobalanus icaco - L.

Common Name Coco Plum, Paradise Plum
Family Chrysobalanaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Forests near the shore line[ 200 ]. Coastal shoreline and sandy thickets[ 307 ]. Usually found where the soil is moist or flooded[ 335 ].
Range S. America from Brazil, north to the Caribbean, Mexico and southern Florida. West tropical Africa - coastal areas from Senegal to Angola.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Chrysobalanus icaco Coco Plum, Paradise Plum


Marion Schneider & Christoph Aistleitner
Chrysobalanus icaco Coco Plum, Paradise Plum
https://botanicimage.com/

 

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Summary

Coco Plum or Chysobalanus icaco is a widely cultivated food plant commonly found near sea beaches and inland. It is a small evergreen tree or a shrub that grows up to 6 m tall. It has long, flexible branches, green, leathery leaves, and small greenish white flowers that form into erect clusters in the leave axils. It can also be grown as a hedge and it is propagated by seeds or woody stem cuttings. Medicinally, it is used internally against dysentery, dyspepsia, and diarrhoea and externally against various skin conditions. The purple or red, sweet fruit is consumed raw or cooked into jams and jellies. The seed can be eaten raw also or roasted. It yields edible oil. Both fruits and leaves, on the other hand, yield black dye.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Chrysobalanus icaco is an evergreen Tree growing to 6 m (19ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and saline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Chrysobalanus atacorensis A.Chev. Chrysobalanus chariensis A.Chev. Chrysobalanus ellipticus Sol. ex

Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil

Edible portion: Fruit, Kernel, Seeds, Nut. Fruit - raw or cooked. A fairly sweet, white, spongy flesh[ 307 ]. They are stewed in sugar, dried like prunes or made into jams and jellies[ 301 ]. The ovoid fruit is 2 - 5cm long[ 200 ]. The purple or red-skinned fruits are considered to have a superior flavour to white forms[ 307 ]. Seed - raw or cooked[ 301 ]. A delicious flavour[ 200 ]. They are roasted and eaten[ 301 ]. When preserving the fruits, they are pierced right through the centre, including the seed. This allows the juice of the fruit to penetrate the seed and, after separation from the shell, the nut-like kernel is eaten[ 301 ]. An edible oil can be extracted from the seed[ 307 ].

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.


The root, bark, fruit and leaves all contain tannins and are astringent[ 307 , 348 ]. They are used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery and dyspepsia[ 307 , 348 ]. They are used externally as a wash to treat skin complaints[ 307 ]. The juice of the roots and leaves, mixed with oil, is used to contract the sphincters of the vulva by women wishing to simulate virginity, and the same preparation is used by men for treating flaccid scrotum[ 348 ].

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Edible Shrubs provides detailed information, attractively presented, on over 70 shrub species. They have been selected to provide a mix of different plant sizes and growing conditions. Most provide delicious and nutritious fruit, but many also have edible leaves, seeds, flowers, stems or roots, or they yield edible or useful oil.

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Other Uses

Oil

Other uses rating: Medium (3/5). Seaside tree, Backyard tree, Screening, Hedging, Dune stabilization, Planter, Topiary, Xerophytic, Border, Espalier, Pollard, Planted as an ornamental shrub. Agroforestry Uses: Plants can be grown as a hedge[ 307 ]. They are particularly well suited for use by the sea[ 307 ]. The plant often forms large, rambling, impenetrable thickets and so it has been used to stabilize sand dunes[ 307 ]. Other Uses: An oil can be obtained from the seed[ 307 ] The seeds are so rich in oil that they can be strung on sticks and burnt like a candle[ 307 ]. The bark is rich in tannins[ 307 ]. A black dye can be obtained from the fruit[ 307 , 510 ]. A black dye can be obtained from the leaves[ 510 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Management: Standard  Regional Crop  Staple Crop: Protein-oil

A plant for the humid lowland tropics[ 307 ]. Prefers a position in full sun or light shade[ 307 ]. Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[ 200 ]. Plants can succeed in both poor and fertile soils[ 335 ]. Requires a well-drained soil[ 307 ]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[ 307 ]. Very tolerant of salt-laden winds[ 307 ]. Plants have escaped from cultivation and become naturalized in some areas[ 307 ]. There is at least one named form[ 301 ]. Plants usually flower in two or more flushes per year[ 335 ], and can flower intermittently throughout the year[ 307 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Simply managed rows of shrubs and trees.
  • 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.
  • Staple Crop: Protein-oil  (16+ percent protein, 16+ percent oil). Annuals include soybeans, peanuts, sunflower seeds. Perennials include seeds, beans, nuts, and fruits such as almond, Brazil nut, pistachio, walnut, hazel, and safou.

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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.

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Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a partially shaded position in a nursery seedbed. A moderate germination rate can be expected, with the seed sprouting within 20 - 25 days[ 420 ]. When the seedlings are 4 - 5cm tall, pot them up into individual containers and they should be ready to plant out 6 - 7 months later[ 420 ]. Soft nodal cuttings. Woody stem cuttings, Layering.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Coco Plum or Chysobalanus icaco. Other Names: Icaco plum, Bopace, Cocoaplum, Ebenga, Ebenha, Enhapitche, Hicaco, Man du'a

Found In

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

Found In: Africa, Amazon, Angola, Asia, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Brazil, Cameroon, Caribbean, Central Africa, Central America, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, C™te d'Ivoire, Cuba, Dominican Republic, East Africa, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, French Guiana, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guianas, Guinea, GuinŽe, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, India, Indochina, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Liberia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, North America, Pacific, Panama, Philippines, Puerto Rico, SE Asia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South America, St Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and 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.

May be weedy

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Vulnerable A1c

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

 

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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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