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Family Malvaceae
Guiana chestnut tree
Pachira aquatica Linn.
Gua li

Scientific names Common names
Bombax aquaticum (Aubl.) K.Schum. Castañas (Tag.)
Bombax macrocarpum (Schltdl. & Cham.) K.Schum.Vesipahhiira. Braided money tree (Engl.)
Bombax rigidifolium Ducke Guiana chestnut tree (Engl.)
Carolinea grandiflora (Tussac) Spach Money plant (Engl.)
Carolinea macrocarpa Schltdl. & Cham. Money tree (Engl.)
Pachira aquatica Linn. Pachira (Engl.)
Pachira grandiflora Tussac Provision tree (Engl.)
Pachira microcarpa (Schltdl. & Cham.) Walp. Saba nut (Engl.)
Pachira pustulifera Pittier Wild cacao (Engl.)
Pachira spruceana Decne Wild kapok tree (Engl.)
Pachira villosula Pittier  
Pachira villulosa Pittier  
Sophia carolina L.  
Pachira aquatica is an accepted name. The Plant List

Other vernacular names
BRAZIL: Cacao selvagem, Castanha das Guianas, Monguba.
CHINESE: Gua li.
COLOMBIA: Zapotolongo, Zapoton.
CZECH: Bombakopsis vodni.
ESTONIAN: Vesiphahiira.
FRENCH: Cacaoyer-Riviere, Noisetier de la Guyane, Pachirier aquatique.
GERMAN: Wilder cacobaum, Wilder kakaobaum.
MEXICO: Apompo, Zapote bobi.
PORTUGUESE: Astanheirodo Maranhao, Cacau selvagem, Castanheira de agua.
SPANISH: Castaña de agua, Ceibon de agua, Zapote de agua.

Pachira aquatics is a small- to medium-sized evergreen tree with dense, round crown, growing to a height of 6-17 meters, occasionally more. Bole is straight and cylindrical, trunk is stout up to 90 centimeters in diameter. Leaves are alternate, palmate compound, with 5 to 11 leaflets.\, 11-15 centimeters long. Flowers are solitary, large, up to 30 centimeters long, with hundreds of reddish or white stamens, style up to 30 centimeters long. Fruit is oblong-ovoid, 14 centimeters long and 9 centimeters wide, with a brown, scurfy hard, tough rind. Seeds are irregularly contained in a large capsule, variable in size, up to 30 centimeters.

- Ornamental cultivation: Plants are braided when young and pliable. Once the trunks are braided, they continue to grow that way.
- Cultivated for its edible seeds.

- GC-FID and GC-MS studies of hydro distilled essential oil from air-dried leaves of P. aquatics yielded six constituents representing 99.8% of the oil. Major components were 9-octadecenamide (35.1%), photolytic (31.2%), and methyl palmate (19.1%). (6)
- Study of stems isolated two new naphthalene derivatives, 11-hydroxy-2-O-methylhibiscolactone A (1) and O-dimethylglyoxime S (2), along with 18 known compounds. (see study below) (7)

- Some conflicting info on toxicity.

Parts used
Leaves and seeds. .


- Seeds, raw or cooked; raw it tastes like peanuts, roasting or frying in oil gives a flavor of chestnuts.
- Seeds can be ground into a flour and used to make bread.
- Seeds sometimes used in the preparation of beverages.
- Young leaves and flowers are cooked, eaten as vegetable.
- (Note: There are conflicting snippets on edibility. While many support edibility, a few warn on the potential toxicity of seed consumption. One mentions cyclopropenoic fatty acid, as possibly toxic and even carcinogenic. Readers are advised to read further on this concern.)
- Skin of immature fruit used for treatment of hepatitis.
- Bark used to treat stomach complaints and headaches. Tisane from boiled bark used as blood tonic. Cold water infusion of crushed leaves used for burning sensation in the skin. (2)
- Bark decoction used to treat anemia, high blood pressure, fatigue and general debility.
- Dye: Yellow or red dye obtained from the bark.
- Fiber/Cordage: Bark yield fiber. Used for making cordage. (2)
- Oil: Seed oil has potential for making soap. (2)
- Repellent: Fruit spread on the ground to repel fleas. (2)
- Indoor detoxifying plant: Considered an in-door detoxifying plant that removes ethyl benzene and formaldehyde.

Composition and Nutritional Properties / Toxicity:
Study evaluated three wild plants (Pachira aquatica, Sterculia striata, and Terminalia catappa) for chemical composition and nutritional properties Proximate analysis showed all with high protein content. While deficient in some essential amino acids, P. squatica yielded tryptophan, threonine, and phenylalanine and tyrone contents higher than reported for human milk, chicken egg and cow's milk. Seeds of P. aquatica also exhibited hemagglutinating and trypsin inhibitor activities. The raw seed of P. aquatica was highly toxic when fed to rats at half the meal protein concentration of S. striata or T. catappa. (3)
• Accumulation of Isohemigossypolone in Inner Bark and Heartwood / Fungitoxins: Isohemigossypolone (1) and 2-O-methylisohemigossypolone (2) major fungitoxins of P. aquatica, were found to accumulate locally in the outer bark of the swollen trunk. Study of P. aquatica infected with a phytopathogenic bacterium yielded significant amounts of 1 and 2 from browned inner tissues of the swollen trunk. Findings suggest the inner tissues inducibly produced and accumulated antifungals 1 and 2 during infection events. Study tentatively identified Pseudomonas sp. which promoted tissue browning on sectioned disks. (5)
- Naphthofuranone Derivatives / Superoxide Anion Inhibitory Activity / Stems: Study of stems isolated two new naphthofuranone derivatives, 11-hydroxy-2-O-methylhibiscolactone A (1) and O-methylhibiaxonw S (2), along with 18 known compounds. Of the isolated compounds, compounds 1, isohemigossylic acid lactone-7-methyl ether (4), gmelofuran (6), and 5-hydroxyauranetin (8) exhibited inhibition (IC50 ≤ 28.84 µM) of auperoxide anion generation by human neutrophils in response to fMLP. (7)

- Ornamental cutivation.

August 2019

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

Pachira aquatica / Synonyms / The Plant List
Pachira aquatica / Useful Tropical Plants
Composition and nutritional properties of seeds from Pachira aquatica Aubl, Sterculia striata St Hil et Naud and Terminalia catappa Linn / J T A Oleivera et al / Food Chemistry, Aug 2000; 70(2): pp 185-191/ https://doi.org/10.1016/S0308-8146(00)00076-5
Pachira aquatica / Lim T K / Edible Medicinal and Non-Medicinal Plants, Vol 1, Fruits
Accumulation of Isohemigossypolone and Its Related Compounds in the Inner Bark and Heartwood of Diseased Pachira aquatica/ Mariko SHIBATANI, Yasuyuki HASHIDOKO & Satoshi TAHARA / Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, 1999; 63(10): pp 1777-1780
Volatile Constituents from the Leaves of Pachira aquatica Aubl Grown in Nigeria / Oladipupo A. Lawal, Isiaka A. Ogunwande and Andy R. Opoku / Internation Research Journal of Pure and Applied Chemistry, 2015; 7(2): pp49-53 / Article no.IRJPAC.2015.054
Naphthofuranone derivatives and other constituents from Pachira aquatica with inhibitory activity on superoxide anion generation by neutrophils / Lin-Yang cheng, Hsiang-Ruei Liao et al / Fiteropia, March 2017; 117: pp 16-21

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

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