Herbs & Plants

Inga vera

Botanical Name: Inga vera
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales
Clade: Mimosoid clade
Genus: Inga
Species: I. vera

Synonyms: Kuntze Inga berteroana DC. Inga donnell-smithii Pittier Inga eriocarpa Benth. Inga fissicalyx Pittier Inga…

Common Names : Ice cream bean, River koko, Guaba, Pois Doux

Inga vera is native to Tropical S. America, north to the Caribbean and through Central America to Mexico. It grows in Tropical moist forest. Along riverbanks and in sheltered ravines at elevations of 60 – 700 metres. Prefers damp to wet soils, growing mainly in secondary formations.


Inga vera is a medium-sized evergreen tree 12-18 m tall, with trunk 30-60
cm in diameter (sometimes to 20 m tall and 1 m in diameter) with a widely
spreading crown of long branches and thin foliage. Bark grey-brown, fairly
smooth but becoming finely fissured; inner bark pinkish to brown. Twigs
brown, often zigzag, with dense brown hairs when young.
Leaves alternate in 2 rows, pinnately compound, 18-30 cm long; axis 6-18
cm long, brown, hairy, with a green wing 6-10 mm broad. Leaflets 3-7
pairs, slightly drooping, stalkless, with a tiny round gland between each
pair, elliptical to oblong, 5-15 x 2.5-7 cm, larger from base towards the
end, long pointed at tip and short pointed at base, not toothed on edges,
thin and slightly convex, slightly hairy, especially on veins, upper surface
green, underneath pale green.

Flower clusters 1-4 on base of leaf or at end of twig, consisting of several
stalkless flowers crowded near end of hairy stalk, only 1 or 2 open daily.
Each flower 6-7.5 x 7.5-9 cm, with many threadlike white stamens.
fully expanded at dawn but soon wilts in daylight. Calyx tubular, cylindrical,
5-toothed, corolla a narrow cylindrical tube about 15 mm long with 5 short
spreading lobes, greenish-yellow with dense brown hairs; numerous
stamens united into a tube inside the corolla; pistil with long narrow ovary
and very slender style. The flowers are pollinated by Bees.

Pods nearly cylindrical, narrow, 10-20 cm long, 1-2 cm wide, 4-ribbed, with
2 long grooves, slightly curved, densely hairy, brown, with calyx at base,
not splitting open. Seeds few, beanlike, black, in white, sweetish, edible


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. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,500 – 3,000mm, but tolerates 1,200 – 4,000mm. Succeeds in full sun and in dappled shade. Succeeds on a wide variety of soils, including limestone. Prefers a pH in the range 6 – 8, tolerating 5.5 – 8.5. A fast-growing tree. The plant can flower and produce fruits throughout the year. 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

Through seeds – 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. 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 late.

Edible Uses:
The sweet tasting pulp found surrounding the seeds inside the pod is eaten. It is not widely appreciated. The nearly cylindrical, narrow pods are 10 – 20cm long, 1 – 2cm wide.

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

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. 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. Other Uses: The bark is a source of tannins. It is used for dyeing textiles. 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. The wood makes an excellent fuel and is also used to make charcoal.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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