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Pachira aquatica (pak-EYE-ra)
Provision tree, Money tree, Guiana chestnut, Water chestnut,
Wild cocoa tree, Shaving-brush tree
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.
With proper care, Pachiras can live indoors for years.
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.
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 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.
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
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
Some information provided by:
Botanica by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
The Greek Flowers Portal,
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
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (800)
Photos courtesy of The John Henry Company
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