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Foliage Plant
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pachira

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BOTANICAL NAME

Pachira aquatica (pak-EYE-ra)

COMMON NAMES
Provision tree, Money tree, Guiana chestnut, Water chestnut, Wild cocoa tree, Shaving-brush tree

DESCRIPTION
Pachiras are evergreen trees that feature large leaves, which can grow up to 12 inches across, with five to nine lance-shaped leaflets. As full-sized trees, Pachiras live in boggy, tropical environments. They are being sold in their smaller incarnations as houseplants and even bonsai trees. Sometimes the trunks of several Pachiras are trained around one another in a braided fashion. Other times, P. aquatica is sold as a cane cutting with just a crown of leaves. Indoors, these trees do not flower.

DECORATIVE LIFE
With proper care, Pachiras can live indoors for years.

AVAILABILITY
Pachiras are available year-round.

IN-STORE AND CONSUMER CARE
WATER Keep the soil moderately moist at all times in spring through fall. In winter, water the plants more sparingly
LIGHT Bright indoor light is best, but keep Pachiras out of direct sunlight.
TEMPERATURE Average warm indoor temperatures are appropriate. In winter, Pachiras should be kept cooler, though not at temperatures lower than 45 F.
HUMIDITY Pachiras require sufficient humidity; mist leaves as necessary.
FERTILIZER Feed Pachiras every several weeks, less during winter.
PROPOGATION Stem pieces from Pachiras can be used as cane cuttings.

CHALLENGES
PESTS AND PROBLEMS Donít overwater the plant or allow excess water to collect; this can lead to leaf yellowing.
LEAF DROP Low humidity will cause Pachirasí leaves to drop.
PRUINING The leaves can be trimmed to control the plantís shape.

FAMILY TREE
FAMILY Pachiras are a relative of the baobab tree (Adansonia digitata), and both are members of the Bombacaceae family.
HOME SWEET HOME Pachiras are native to the wetlands of Mexico, Ecuador and Brazil.
WHAT'S IN A NAME The word Pachira comes from the native Guyanese word for these trees. Its species name, aquatica, comes from the fact that the Pachiraís trunk, like the baobabís, stores water. For a time, P. aquatica was classified as P. macrocarpa.

FUN FACTS
LUCKY PLANT? Often sold for indoor use under the common name ďmoney tree,Ē Pachiras are among plants important in feng shui. The five-fingered leaves represent the five feng-shui elements: wood, water, earth, fire and metal.
The trees are believed to bring wealth, and the braiding of the trunks is symbolic of catching and retaining this wealth. In some countries, coins are placed on the plantís trunk to enhance these qualities. The plantís symbolism makes it an appropriate gift for weddings and new businesses.
IN THE WILD In their outdoor, full-size form, Pachiras can grow to 60 feet tall. The trees flower with greenish or cream flowers that have multiple red-tipped stamens resembling long brushes.
EDIBLE TREATS After flowering, football-shaped pods are produced that can grow to 12 inches long and 5 inches in diameter. These pods are packed with nuts (hence the chestnut-related common names). The edible nuts can be eaten raw, roasted or fried or can be ground into flour for baking. 

Some information provided by:
Botanica by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
Daveís Garden, http://davesgarden.com/nl.php?date=2003-06-07
Floridata.com, www.floridata.com/ref/p/pach_aqu.cfm
The Greek Flowers Portal, www.valentine.gr/pachira_en.htm
Hortus Third by Liberty Hyde Bailey and Ethel Zoe Bailey
The Houseplant Encyclopedia by Ingrid Jantra and Ursula Kruger
The House Plant Expert Book Two by Dr. D.G. Hessayon
Stearnís Dictionary of Plant Names by William T. Stearn

You may reach Foliage Plant of the Month writer Amy Bauer by e-mail at abauer@superfloralretailing.com or by phone at (800) 355-8086.

Photos courtesy of The John Henry Company

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