Ice Cream Bean Inga edulis

How to sow ice-cream bean: Transplant young tree or start from seed

Sun requirement for ice-cream bean: Plant in Full Sun

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The Ice Cream Bean, Joaquiniquil, or Monkey Tamarind tree is a small, fast-growing, evergreen tree in the Legume family (Fabaceae). It is native to the hot, humid tropics of Central and South America. The tree produces large, 30cm pods that resemble those of tamarind. The pods do not open when ripe, and contain black seeds the size of lima beans surrounded by sweet, cottony pulp that tastes similar to vanilla ice cream. The tree is grown as a companion plant to shade cacao, coffee, tea, and vanilla crops because it has a broad, moderately dense canopy and fixes nitrogen. Beans and pulp are quickly perishable and harvested as needed when ripe. They are eaten fresh or used to flavor desserts and make the alcoholic beverage cachiri. In folk medicine, a decoction of the leaves and bark is used to relieve diarrhea, and root decoctions are used to treat dysentery. The Ice Cream Bean tree has white flowers and a contorted trunk with gray bark. It flowers and fruits year round and does best where annual daytime temperatures are between 23-30°C. Temperatures below -2°C will kill mature plants and new growth is damaged at 0°C. Mature trees are somewhat drought-tolerant. Seed germinates readily and self-sows when pods fall to the ground. The trees are threatening to become invasive in Australia.

photo of crop



living and reproducing in a single year or less




tea coffee


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How to grow ice-cream beans

Scientific names

Inga edulis

Alternate names

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