Pachira aquatica – the Provision Tree
Pachira aquatica, the South American Provision Tree – each of the five petals is about 35 cm long This tree has proved to be one of our fastest Palm House plants, adding almost 4 metres to its height in the past 12 months. A member of the Bombacaceae family, Pachira aquatica grows on river banks in Central and South America. It is also cultivated for its edible nuts which can be eaten raw or cooked. Even the leaves and flowers are edible, which gives rise to its common name of the Provision tree.
Commercially it is now sold under the name Money Tree. A tradition that probably arose in Taiwan where it was sold as a good luck plant because of the five parts to its leaves that embodied the five Feng Shui elements of earth, fire, water, wood and metal. Such plants are usually grown with five stems braided together. Our plant has leaves with 5 or 6 leaflets – maybe an extra one for even more luck.
The Fruit consists of a large woody pod over 30 cm across. Falling into the water below, the seeds germinate almost immediately, and in the wild their roots eventually snag on riverside vegetation and a new tree establishes itself. The Flower is bat pollinated, opening in the afternoon and fading the following day.