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Inga jinicuil - Harms

Common Name Ice Cream Bean, Jinicuil
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Moist lowland slopes[307 ].
Range Central America - Mexico to Costa Rica.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Inga jinicuil Ice Cream Bean, Jinicuil
Inga jinicuil Ice Cream Bean, Jinicuil


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Jinucuil or Ice Cream Bean, otherwise known as Inga jinicuil, is a tropical evergreen tree with a spreading crown, bright green leaves, creamy white flowers in clusters, and pod-type fruits. It is very fast-growing and widely planted in Central America as shade tree in coffee plantations. The fruit pulp is creamy white in color and slightly sweet in flavor. The seeds can also be eaten when cooked. Other common names include Coffee-shade, Guabo, Cuajiniquil and Shimbillo.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Inga jinicuil is an evergreen Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 25 m (82ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10 and is frost tender.
It can fix Nitrogen.
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 saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant is not wind tolerant.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Feuilleea jinicuil (Cham. & Schltdl.) Kuntze


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Seed  Seedpod
Edible Uses:

Inside the seedpod lies a slightly sweet, creamy, white, high protein pulp surrounding the brown seeds[307 ]. This pulp has a flavour likened to vanilla ice cream and is considered a delicacy by many, especially children[307 , 317 ]. The seedpod is about 20cm long and 5cm wide[307 ]. Seed - cooked[317 ]. Traditionally eaten with Phaseolus beans and Chenopodiium leaves[317 ].

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

Large shade tree. Street tree. Public open space. Xerophytic. Agroforestry Uses: Used as a shade tree in coffee plantations[307 , 317 , 408 ]. This was the first species cultivated for coffee shade in Central America, but due to its susceptibility to pests it is being replaced by other Inga species[317 ]. Other Uses: None known

Cultivation details

A plant for the lowland moist tropics[307 ]. Prefers a position in full sun in a fertile, well-drained soil[307 ]. Requires a position sheltered from strong winds[307 ]. Plants flower irregularly throughout the year[307 ]. The flowers are easily damaged by high winds or heavy rain[307 ]. 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 ]

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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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Seed - Greenwood cuttings.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Ice Cream Bean, Jinicuil, Coffee-shade, Guabo, Cuajiniquil, Shimbillo, chalahuite, inga jinicuil,

Found In

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

Belize; Costa Rica; Ecuador; El Salvador; Guatemala, Nicaragua, Central America, Honduras, Mexico, North America, Panama, South America,

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 : Status: Least Concern

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

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