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Botanical Name: Pachira aquatica
Species: P. aquatica
Habitat : Pachira aquatica is native to Central and South America where it grows in swamps.. It is cultivated in many tropical regions, including Hawaii and Southern California. In the wild, Pachira aquatica is a wetland tree that grows in freshwater swamps associated with tropical estuaries. It often grows alongside rivers, where its branches arch out over the water.
Guiana chestnut is a spreading tree that grows to 60 ft (15 m) in the wild, but it is usually more like a large shrub in cultivation. It has greenish bark and shiny, dark green, compound, 8-10 in (20-25 cm) leaves that look like those of a schefflera (Schefflera actinophylla). The flowers emerge from 14 in (35.6 cm) long buds. They are usually almost hidden by the dense foliage, which stays on the tree during the bloom period, unlike that of similar Bombax and Chorisia species. The cream colored petals of the large flowers droop and disappear to show off dramatic clusters of 3-4 in (7.6-10 cm) crimson-tipped, off-white stamens. They are followed by football shaped woody pods which may reach 12 in (30.5 cm) in length and 5 in (12.7 cm)inches in diameter. Tightly packed nuts within the pod enlarge until about a 0.5 in (1.3 cm) in diameter and the pod bursts open.
Propagation: Plants are easily started from seed and will root from cuttings. The tree grows well as a tropical ornamental in moist, frost-free areas, and can be started from seed or cutting. It is a durable plant and will adapt very well to different conditions. The pachira needs plenty of sunlight though it is important to avoid direct sunlight during the summer months as the leaves may get sunburned.
The nuts taste sort of like peanuts. They are harvested when the seed pods burst and eaten raw, roasted, or fried. They also can be ground into a flour for baking bread. The young leaves and flowers may be cooked and used as a vegetable.
A popular beverage tea to build the blood in old age, to treat anemia and exhaustion, and for low blood pressure. For kidney pain, cut a seed form the fruit in quarters; boil in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes and drink before breakfast for 3 consecutive days. Boil a piece of bark 2.5 x 10 cm in 3 cups water for 10 minutes; drink ½ cup 6 times daily as a general tonic to build blood and strength.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
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