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Tree Description: It is a small evergreen tree 4-6 m tall. The fruits are semi-woody capsules which stay green even when ripe. Like many of the Bombacaceae species P. Glabra has a very fat trunk to store water. Mature trees will produce between 50 - 80 fruits per year.
Scientific Name: Pachira glabra
Common Name: French peanut, Saba nut, money tree, and lucky tree.
Relatives: Pachira aquatica, Malabar chestnut
Origin: Eastern Brazil
Distribution: It is not very frequent in its natural habitat, the pluvial Atlantic forests from Pernambuco to Rio de Janeiro and the flood plain forests of Para and Maranhao. Today this species is distributed throughout the tropical world, used both as an ornamental tree and a food crop.
History: It’s said that a penniless farmer once prayed for assistance. Soon afterward, he discovered a new plant growing in his fields. After bringing one into his home, he began experiencing a change of fortune. Whether or not this old tale is true, it’s definitely true that money tree is believed to bring good fortune. Native to Central and South American wetlands, it began to gain popularity in the 1980’s. That’s when a truck driver in Taiwan first braided its trunks together. His claim is that this would “lock in” luck and good fortune.
Importance: The tree produces a fruit/pod which contains many edible seeds which can be consumed raw or toasted/roasted/boiled. The seeds contain 16% protein and 40-50% fat.