It's not a myth. There is something commonly called a 'Money Tree', also called the Provision Tree by the United Nations.
No, of course, it doesn't grow notes, but it produces an abundance of other currency - nutritious abundant food, habitat, shelter, timber, fuel ... and it grows in parts of the world where this is sorely needed. There is a story about a poor many praying for some money when he looked up and saw the Malabar Chestnut - which then became his source of livelihood.
I am so delighted to have a few of these magnificent Malabar Chestnut trees growing in my food forest - not just abundant and useful plant, shade providing, but beautiful too. Did you know it is also symbolically associated with good fortune, good luck and prosperity in places such as Japan and China?
Malabar chestnut (Pachira aquatica) goes by other names too including Saba Nut and Guyana Nut. While you can find it almost everywhere in tropical and subtropical regions, it's originally from Central and South America.
As you can guess from it's botanical name, it prefers moisture - humid climates, moist forests, being near waterways. However it does grow in pots too and in less moist conditions, although in these conditions it has slower growth.
In the ideal habitat of Malabar Chestnut, it is a fast growing tree that can reach 18 metres. Usually in a garden it's more like 6-7 metres.
It's an easy plant to grow. It doesn't like frost, but apart from that, it is very adaptable to periods of drought or flood, and is disease resistant.
EAT THE SEEDS
I eat the seeds raw or cooked (and put the seed pod back into the garden as organic matter). They can be used in so many meals - as a nut, in salad, in stir fry, as a flour, as a beverage... .
- As a nut, think along the lines of chestnuts and cashews when they are roasted. When you eat them freshly roasted and hot they are soft, but if you wait until they cool, they go crisp.
- Raw they are more like peanuts.
- Grind the roasted nuts into a baking flour or hot drink too.
- They are delicious roasted - plain, sprinkled with a little salt or drizzled with some honey.
- To prepare them, I prefer to soak the seeds overnight first before roasting them though because this makes the seed swell and burst open its coating (which you remove).
HARVESTING AND STORING SEEDS
The seeds (or nuts) are super easy to harvest. When the seedpods burst open near the end of summer, it means the seeds are ripe and ready to eat. You are likely to find them all over the ground under the tree when they are ripe. Go out everyday to collect more and more and more!
When you have a bumper crop it's fine just to store them raw in a cool dry place. They'll keep for months (if you haven't eaten them all by then).
EAT THE YOUNG LEAVES
The young leaves can be used too in salads or cooked as a vegetable in stir fries for example.
EAT THE FLOWERS
The spectacular large nocturnal flowers are reason enough to grow this plant. They look incredible and the vanilla scent is wonderful. You can eat them like a vegetable as well.
USING THE TRUNK
The trunk has a swollen cylindrical look - not surprising since it is related to the the boabab. The bark can be used for making handicrafts. The wood too is soft lightweight wood that is good for making things like rafts, for carving and other non-structural uses.
HOW TO PROPAGATE A MALABAR CHESTNUT
Getting new Malabar Chestnut plants from existing plants is simple. You can do it either plant one of the seeds or propagate by branch cutting. I usually take a 30 cm length from the tip of a branch and plant directly in the ground. You could get it started it in a pot too.
DO YOU (OR COULD YOU) GROW MALABAR CHESTNUT?
- Do you already grow Malabar Chestnut? Do you use them in other ways?
- Are you in a warm climate? Perhaps you have space for a Malabar Chestnut or three?
FREE FOOD FOREST MASTERCLASS
Join my on my next free Masterclass: How to start a food forest.
Registration is now open for my next free online masterclass: How to Start a Food Forest. I go live on Monday January 22nd, 8:00-8:45pm AEST (includes Q&A). Even if you can't make it, I encourage you to still register to receive the replay link. Click here to register: https://events.genndi.com/register/169105139238469461/2cb39235bd
Labels: community food, food, food forest, foraging, gardening, permaculture, permaculture garden, seeds, simple living