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Erythrina edulis - Triana

Common Name Balu. Andean tree bean
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Research indicates that the uncooked seeds can be toxic if consumed over a long period[303 ]. Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the bark and stems of plants in this genus usually contain alkaloids that are toxic in all but small amounts[K ].
Habitats A pioneer species, it is usually found in open areas with disturbed soil[414].
Range Western S. America - Bolivia and Peru, north to Panama.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Erythrina edulis Balu. Andean tree bean

Erythrina edulis Balu. Andean tree bean
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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Erythrina edulis is a deciduous Tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bees, wasps, birds.
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. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Erythrina esculenta Sprague Erythrina lorenoi Macbr.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed
Edible Uses:

Seed - cooked[301 ]. The large, succulent seeds have a pleasant, slightly sweet flavour[301 ]. The seeds are used mostly cooked and salted[317 ]. Seeds must be boiled for at least 45 minutes or fried thoroughly before being eaten[303 ]. As a paste, they provide a nutritious base for tortillas, desserts, pies, soups and food for infants[303 ]. They are also boiled, sun dried, ground and added to flour[303 ]. The fruits hang from the tree in bunches of 9 and 18 cylindrical pods. Pod size varies widely, but averages 32 cm long and 3 cm in diameter with six seeds[303 ]. The seed is a component of many diets and contains 23% protein, 1% fat, 8% crude fibre and 84% moisture[303 ]. Seeds have a good balance of amino acids and a digestibility of about 50% after cooking[303 ].

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.
Antiphlogistic  Ophthalmic  Skin

A soap made from the bark, branches and leaves is used to wash dogs with skin disease[303 ]. The seed is mixed in a liquid concoction to treat inflammation of the bladder[303 ]. The flowers are used to treat eye irritations[303 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Fencing  Fodder  Fuel  Mulch  Pioneer  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: A pioneer species in its native range, it is fast-growing, fixes atmospheric nitrogen and provides food and medicines for local use. It should make an excellent species for use in establishing woodlands[K ]. The species is used for planting living fences[317 ]. Grown in Panama as a shade tree for coffee, it has been recommended for agroforestry systems[317 ]. The fallen leaves provide leaf litter[303 ]. Other Uses The wood is used for construction[303 ]. The tree is used as firewood[303 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Fodder: Bank  Fodder: Pod  Management: Standard  Other Systems: Multistrata  Regional Crop  Staple Crop: Protein

A plant of higher elevation in the dry to moist tropics. It is found at a wide range of elevations from 900 - 3,200 metres, and grows in areas where the annual temperatures range between 5 - 25°c and the rainfall is 450 - 1,800mm[303 ]. Plants do not tolerate frequent frosts[303 ]. Grows well in loose-textured sandy loams and in heavy clay soils, but does not like strongly acidic soils where the pH is below 4.5[303 ]. A pioneer species, it grows best in full sunlight, but trees can tolerate some shade in the early stages of growth[303 ]. It does not tolerate long periods of drought, especially during the early stages of establishment[303 ]. The species is cultivated at quite high altitudes, between 1,800 - 2,200 metres, in the Central Andes, and in Colombia between 1,000 - 2,700 metres[317 ]. The tree has a normal life span of 30 - 40 years[303 ]. Seedlings grow rapidly (2.5 metres tall in the 1st year) and begin producing fruit in approximately 24 - 27 months[303 ]. Cuttings begin producing fruit about 18 months after planting[303 ]. In Colombia, live fence posts are established from stakes at 2 metre intervals and allowed to grow for 30 months before pruning or attaching barbed wire[303 ]. Left unpruned, the posts can provide up to 85 tons of fruit[303 ]. Seeds mature about three months after the plant flowers[303 ]. The various species of Erythrina can all, as far as is known, be intercrossed to produce fertile hybrids[310 ]. 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 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Simply managed rows of shrubs and trees.
  • 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.
  • Other Systems: Multistrata  Multistrata agroforests feature multiple layers of trees often with herbaceous perennials, annual crops, and livestock.
  • 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  (16+ percent protein, 0-15 percent oil). Annuals include beans, chickpeas, lentils, cowpeas, and pigeon peas. Perennials include perennial beans, nuts, leaf protein concentrates, and edible milks.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Plants are easily propagated from seed or cuttings, but seedlings tend to root deeper and live longer than cuttings[303 ]. Seed - larger seeds tend to produce more vigorous seedlings. Seeds should be planted in 1-kg polyethylene bags with the convex side facing upwards and slightly exposed. Germination begins in 5 - 10 days[303 ]. Seedlings should be shaded in the nursery and shade partially reduced in the last two weeks before planting out[303 ]. At 60 days, seedlings may be planted out in holes 30 cm deep[303 ]. The plant can also be direct seeded[303 ]. Seed should be removed from pods immediately and stored in paper bags in a cool, dark place[303 ]. Seeds lose viability quickly and should be planted within 8 days of harvesting[303 ]. Viability can be extended up to 20 days by dipping seeds in molten paraffin so that a thin layer of paraffin coats the entire seed[303 ]. Cuttings of 4-6 cm diameter, and usually 1 m in length, should be planted to a depth of 30-50 cm within 3 days of cutting[303 ]. Cuts should be made with well-sharpened tools to avoid damage that can lead to rotting; the top cut should be at a 45? angle[303 ]. Sealing the cuts with paraffin, plastic, mud or other material can increase survival rates[303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Amasisa, Antipurutu, Basul, Balu, Sachaporoto, Porotillo, Pajuro, Chachafruto,

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Found In

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

Andes, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, South America, Venezuela,

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

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

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