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Useful Tropical Plants

Inga edulis

Mart.

Fabaceae

+ Synonyms

Feuilleea conferta (Benth.) Kuntze

Feuilleea edulis (Mart.) Kuntze

Feuilleea scabriuscula (Benth.) Kuntze

Inga benthamiana Meisn.

Inga complanata Amshoff

Inga conferta Benth.

Inga inga (L.) Britton

Inga minutula (Schery) T.S.Elias

Inga scabriuscula Benth.

Inga uncinata Spruce ex Benth.

Inga vera Kunth

Inga ynga (Vell.) J.W.Moore

Mimosa inga L.

Mimosa inga Vell.

Mimosa ynga Vell.

Common Name: Ice Cream Bean

Inga edulis
Seedpod opened to reveal the edible flesh
Photograph by: Arias,F.J
Creative Commons License
Inga edulis Inga edulis Inga edulis Inga edulis Inga edulis Inga edulis Inga edulis Inga edulis

General Information

Ice cream bean is an evergreen tree with a broad, spreading, moderately dense crown; it usually grows up to 20 metres tall, though specimens up to 30 metres have been recorded. The cylindrical bole is often contorted, it can be up to 60cm in diameter, often branching from near the base[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
,
453
Title
Woods of Northeastern Peru
Publication
 
Author
Williams L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Field Museum Press; Chicago.
Year
1936
ISBN
 
Description
Gives information on the properties of the wood of well over 1,000 species of woody plants from northeastern Peru. Can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
549
Title
Flore Forestiere Du Globe
Publication
 
Author
Chnacerel L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Gauthier-Villars et Co.; Paris.
Year
1920
ISBN
 
Description
Written in French, a very detailed work on the timbers of the world. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The edible fruit is very popular in S. America, where it is commonly gathered from the wild and also often cultivated[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
,
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
,
416
Title
Brazilian Fruits and Cultivated Exotics
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.; Bacher. L.; Lacerda. M.; Sartori. S.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora LTDA; Brazil.
Year
2000
ISBN
85-867174-24-0
Description
A superb book, giving information on several hundred fruit species. Each entry has a brief description of the plant and its uses, accompanied by one to many excellent quality photographs of the fruits.
]. The fruits are often sold in local markets[
416
Title
Brazilian Fruits and Cultivated Exotics
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.; Bacher. L.; Lacerda. M.; Sartori. S.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora LTDA; Brazil.
Year
2000
ISBN
85-867174-24-0
Description
A superb book, giving information on several hundred fruit species. Each entry has a brief description of the plant and its uses, accompanied by one to many excellent quality photographs of the fruits.
]. The tree is also used extensively, especially in Central America, to provide shade in coffee, tea, and cacao plantations, and also around dwellings[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
,
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
,
408
Title
Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden Vol. 53
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden
Year
1966
ISBN
 
Description
Contains an excellent treament of a section of the genus Inga. An excellent botanical publication, available for download from the Internet.

Range

Northern and western S. America - Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas.

Habitat

Forests on the riverine flood plains[
416
Title
Brazilian Fruits and Cultivated Exotics
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.; Bacher. L.; Lacerda. M.; Sartori. S.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora LTDA; Brazil.
Year
2000
ISBN
85-867174-24-0
Description
A superb book, giving information on several hundred fruit species. Each entry has a brief description of the plant and its uses, accompanied by one to many excellent quality photographs of the fruits.
]. Moist, wet, or sometimes rather dry forest, or in open places at elevations below 1,500 metres[
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
]. Thickets and wooded swamps at elevations of 110 - 540 metres in Peru[
453
Title
Woods of Northeastern Peru
Publication
 
Author
Williams L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Field Museum Press; Chicago.
Year
1936
ISBN
 
Description
Gives information on the properties of the wood of well over 1,000 species of woody plants from northeastern Peru. Can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Tree
Height17.00 m
Growth RateFast
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of the hot, humid, lowland tropics, where it can also be found at elevations up to 2,200 metres[
335
Title
Perennial Edible Fruits of the Tropics : an Inventory
Publication
 
Author
Martin, F. W.; Campbell, C. W.; Rubertbe, R. M.
Publisher
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
A booklet giving terse details of almost 300 species of edible fruits, plus regional lists of Botanical and Common names for over 2,500 less well-known edible fruits of the tropics.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 23 - 30°c, but can tolerate 18 - 35°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Mature plants can be killed by temperatures of -2°c or lower, whilst new growth is damaged at 0°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 - 2,500mm, but tolerates 640 - 4,000mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Prefers a sunny position, but also succeeds in dappled shade[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Tolerant of a range of soil conditions, including limestone[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. It can succeed on floodplains that are waterlogged for 2 - 3 months each year, and is also remarkably resistant to drought, occurring in regions with a 6-month dry season[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.5 - 8[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The tree can grow rapidly, even on the poorest nutrient-depleted soils[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
Seedling trees can commence fruiting when only two years old[
335
Title
Perennial Edible Fruits of the Tropics : an Inventory
Publication
 
Author
Martin, F. W.; Campbell, C. W.; Rubertbe, R. M.
Publisher
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
A booklet giving terse details of almost 300 species of edible fruits, plus regional lists of Botanical and Common names for over 2,500 less well-known edible fruits of the tropics.
].
Trees can flower and fruit all year round[
335
Title
Perennial Edible Fruits of the Tropics : an Inventory
Publication
 
Author
Martin, F. W.; Campbell, C. W.; Rubertbe, R. M.
Publisher
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
A booklet giving terse details of almost 300 species of edible fruits, plus regional lists of Botanical and Common names for over 2,500 less well-known edible fruits of the tropics.
].
The tree responds well to coppicing[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
A highly variable species, forms with the best quality seedpods are seldom found in Central America, where it is quite likely that all the trees are relics of former cultivation[
408
Title
Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden Vol. 53
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden
Year
1966
ISBN
 
Description
Contains an excellent treament of a section of the genus Inga. An excellent botanical publication, available for download from the Internet.
].
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
Title
Nodulation Plants in GRIN Taxonomy
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.ars-grin.gov/~sbmljw/cgi-bin/taxnodul.pl?language=en
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online database listing plants that have either positive or negative reports on root and stem nodulation with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
].

Edible Uses

The pulp surrounding the seeds in the seedpod is white, translucent and jelly-like with a sweet, perfumed flavour[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. Much esteemed in Ecuador, some forms have a slight cinnamon flavour[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. The seedpod is up to 100cm long[
335
Title
Perennial Edible Fruits of the Tropics : an Inventory
Publication
 
Author
Martin, F. W.; Campbell, C. W.; Rubertbe, R. M.
Publisher
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service
Year
1987
ISBN
 
Description
A booklet giving terse details of almost 300 species of edible fruits, plus regional lists of Botanical and Common names for over 2,500 less well-known edible fruits of the tropics.
].
The seedpod can vary considerably in size and in the quantity of pulp it contains[
408
Title
Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden Vol. 53
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden
Year
1966
ISBN
 
Description
Contains an excellent treament of a section of the genus Inga. An excellent botanical publication, available for download from the Internet.
]. The best forms are found in S. America[
408
Title
Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden Vol. 53
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden
Year
1966
ISBN
 
Description
Contains an excellent treament of a section of the genus Inga. An excellent botanical publication, available for download from the Internet.
].

Medicinal

A decoction of the crushed leaves is taken to relieve coughing[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
].
A decoction of the leaves is applied to sores of the lips (perhaps herpes)[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
].

Agroforestry Uses:

Commonly planted as a shade tree in coffee and cacao plantations, since it is fast-growing, fixes atmospheric nitrogen, has a well spreading crown and produces large quantities of leaves which cover the ground and add considerable quantities of organic matter to the soil[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
408
Title
Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden Vol. 53
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden
Year
1966
ISBN
 
Description
Contains an excellent treament of a section of the genus Inga. An excellent botanical publication, available for download from the Internet.
].
In trial experiments on cultivated slopes, a mulch from this tree reduced soil erosion to levels almost equal to those in secondary forests[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. The leaf litter is high in nitrogen, lignins and polyphenols. It is slow to decompose, but provides a long-term build up of organic nitrogen and effective weed control. Weed biomass decreased considerably in all agroforestry trials with this species, much more than with other leguminous species. Existing trials are too new to ascertain whether the species can maintain or improve soil fertility on acid sites in the long term, but results so far are promising[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Other Uses

The heartwood is light brown with dark stripes; the sapwood is pale yellow or almost white. The texture is coarse; the grain straight to interlocked; lustre is medium; there is no distinctive taste or aroma. The wood is not very heavy; hard to moderately hard. It is said to be very durable, even in water[
453
Title
Woods of Northeastern Peru
Publication
 
Author
Williams L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Field Museum Press; Chicago.
Year
1936
ISBN
 
Description
Gives information on the properties of the wood of well over 1,000 species of woody plants from northeastern Peru. Can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
549
Title
Flore Forestiere Du Globe
Publication
 
Author
Chnacerel L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Gauthier-Villars et Co.; Paris.
Year
1920
ISBN
 
Description
Written in French, a very detailed work on the timbers of the world. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
], though another report says it has low durability and is susceptible to blue stain[
363
Title
Technical Information on 134 Species of Bolivian Woods
Publication
 
Author
USDA Forest Service -- Forest Products Lab
Website
http://www2.fpl.fs.fed.us/publications/
Publisher
USDA Forest Service
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A PDF file, available for download. Exactly what the title says, brief and to the point.
]. It is easy to cut, saws slightly woolly and is liable to split in drying. It is used for making packing cases, and especially for making piles[
453
Title
Woods of Northeastern Peru
Publication
 
Author
Williams L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Field Museum Press; Chicago.
Year
1936
ISBN
 
Description
Gives information on the properties of the wood of well over 1,000 species of woody plants from northeastern Peru. Can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
549
Title
Flore Forestiere Du Globe
Publication
 
Author
Chnacerel L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Gauthier-Villars et Co.; Paris.
Year
1920
ISBN
 
Description
Written in French, a very detailed work on the timbers of the world. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The wood is used for fuel[
549
Title
Flore Forestiere Du Globe
Publication
 
Author
Chnacerel L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Gauthier-Villars et Co.; Paris.
Year
1920
ISBN
 
Description
Written in French, a very detailed work on the timbers of the world. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. A popular source of firewood, the wood has a high calorific value and burns with little smoke[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe[
420
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 2. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-15-1
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
]. Sow in a lightly shaded position in a nursery seedbed. A high rate of germination can be expected, with the seeds sprouting within a few days. Transplant the seedlings to individual containers when they have 4 - 6 leaves and they should be ready for planting out 4 - 5 months later[
420
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 2. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-15-1
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
].
Greenwood cuttings.

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