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Inga vera - Willd.

Common Name Ice cream bean, River koko, Guaba, Pois Doux
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Tropical moist forest[315 ]. Along riverbanks and in sheltered ravines at elevations of 60 - 700 metres[426 ]. Prefers damp to wet soils, growing mainly in secondary formations[419 ].
Range Tropical S. America, north to the Caribbean and through Central America to Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Inga vera Ice cream bean, River koko, Guaba, Pois Doux

Inga vera Ice cream bean, River koko, Guaba, Pois Doux


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Inga vera is an evergreen Tree growing to 15 m (49ft) by 15 m (49ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bees.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Feuilleea spuria (Willd.) Kuntze Feuilleea xalapensis (Benth.) Kuntze Inga berteroana DC. Inga donnell-smithii Pittier Inga eriocarpa Benth. Inga fissicalyx Pittier Inga meissneriana Miq. Inga mociniana G. Don Inga spuria Kunth Inga uraguensis Hook. & Arn. Inga xalapensis Benth. Mimosa spuria (Willd.) Poir. Mimosa vera L.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit
Edible Uses:

The sweet tasting pulp found surrounding the seeds inside the pod is eaten[46 , 317 , 418 ]. It is not widely appreciated[416 ]. The nearly cylindrical, narrow pods are 10 - 20cm long, 1 - 2cm wide[418 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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Astringent  Diuretic  Laxative

The macerated bark is taken orally as a treatment for anaemia[418 ]. A decoction of the root is used as a treatment for gallstones[418 ]. The pulp of the fruit is a treatment for constipation[418 ]. It is reported to be astringent and diuretic[418 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Design: Shade tree; Street tree; Public open space. Agroforestry Uses: The tree fixes atmospheric nitrogen and so enriches the soil in which it grows. It is frequently used as a shade tree in coffee and cacao plantations, being large enough when only 3 years old[317 , 418 , 447 ]. Inga species generally have a number of factors that make them popular for use as shade trees in coffee and cacao plantations:- they grow quickly and so soon make an effective shade; they respond well to drastic pruning and so are easy to keep within the required size and shade levels; they promote and maintain soil fertility; they are effective soil stabilizers[1309 ]. Other Uses: The bark is a source of tannins[317 ]. It is used for dyeing textiles[317 ]. The heartwood is pale brown to a golden brown, with longitudinal streaks or patches of darker brown often shaded with green or yellow; the sapwood is whitish. The wood is moderately heavy; moderately hard; strong; tough; of low durability, being very susceptible to attack by drywood termites and other insects and to decay in contact with the ground. Rate of air-seasoning is rapid, and amount of degrade is moderate. Machining characteristics are as follows: planing, turning, boring, mortising, sanding, and resistance to screw splitting are good; and shaping is poor. It is used for making posts and small implements such as boxes, toys, pencils etc[418 , 419 , 447 ]. The wood makes an excellent fuel and is also used to make charcoal[303 , 418 , 447 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Alley crop  Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Industrial Crop: Biomass  Management: Coppice  Management: Standard  Minor Global Crop

A plant of the humid, lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 18 - 28°c, but can tolerate 15 - 35°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,500 - 3,000mm, but tolerates 1,200 - 4,000mm[418 ]. Succeeds in full sun and in dappled shade[418 ]. Succeeds on a wide variety of soils, including limestone[303 , 418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 8, tolerating 5.5 - 8.5[418 ]. A fast-growing tree[418 , 419 ]. The plant can flower and produce fruits throughout the year[303 , 418 ]. 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: Alley crop  Integrates annual crops with rows of perennials.
  • Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Plants providing crop shade especially trees.
  • 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.
  • Industrial Crop: Biomass  Three broad categories: bamboos, resprouting woody plants, and giant grasses. uses include: protein, materials (paper, building materials, fibers, biochar etc.), chemicals (biobased chemicals), energy - biofuels
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • 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 either in a nursery seedbed or in individual containers. A germination rate of around 100% can be expected, with the seed sprouting within 3 - 5 days[419 ]. Transplant the seedbed seedlings to individual containers when they are 4 - 6cm tall. The seedlings develop quickly and should be ready to plant out 3 - 4 months later[419 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Cuajinicuil, Pwa dou, Sikren, Guama, Guaba,ice-cream-bean, joaquiniquil, Mex. Cuaniquil,

Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Caribbean, Central America, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guianas, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, North America, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, South America, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela, Virgin Islands

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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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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