Ice Cream Bean – Inga edulis
Numerous species are called the Ice Cream Bean; however, Inga edulis is the most common species attributed the name. The tree belongs in the bean family Fabaceae and it is a native to Central and Southern America. Naturally occurs near river banks, swamps and lakes.
The plant does well in acid soils and can grow in most parts of the tropics and subtropics but it is not tolerant of frost or drought. It is a nitrogen fixing tree that can reach up to 30 meters in height. This large attractive tree has spreading branches and lovely, fragrant, white and yellow flowers, solitary, arranged in crowded heads at tips of stems.
Ice Cream Bean Fruit
The cream bean produces fruits that it is long pods, sometimes up to 1m in length, containing a bright-white pulp and several large seeds. The pulp is sweet, juicy, and tastes of vanilla ice-cream and Very popular fruit in many parts of Central and South America. It is especially liked by children. The fruit it is almost always eaten fresh. Pods are harvested when fully rounded usually over summer but they have short keeping life, no more than a few days off the tree.
The ice-cream bean tree is sometimes planted to provide shade for coffee and cacao plantations, timber and in maintaining soil fertility. It can withstand drastic pruning. The seeds are eaten as vegetables. Seeds and leaves are also used medicinally against diarrhea and rheumatism.
Ice Cream Bean Propagation Methods
Propagation is from seeds and cuttings. Seeds germinate rapidly, commonly while the fruit is still attached to the tree. It takes three years from planting to fruit time.
ice-cream bean, Inga edulis
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