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What is Pachira Aquatica?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Pachira aquatica is a tropical evergreen tree native to Central and South America. It is known by a number of common names including Guiana chestnut, saba chestnut, Malabar chestnut, and money tree. In addition to being grown as a food source and ornamental plant, this tropical tree is also cultivated as a houseplant. Kept in small pots, it will stay in a dwarf size and can be an attractive decorative plant for indoor spaces.

This tree is native to swamps and marshes. The roots flare out at the base to stabilize the tree in moist ground, and the height of a mature tree can vary, depending on conditions where it is growing. The leaves are large, bright green, and glossy, with a five-lobed palmate shape. The flowers, typically hidden by the foliage, have large yellowish to cream petals peeled back like a banana peel and long protruding stamens.

These trees produce edible nuts in large pods that crack open as they ripen. Pachira aquatica can be cultivated as a food source in tropical to subtropical regions in United States Department of Agriculture zones 10 and 11. It can also be used as an ornamental tree in a tropical garden. Shade-loving plants can be chosen as companion plantings to establish around the roots, and these trees can also be paired with tropical vines and epiphytic tropical plants like orchids.

Garden supplies and nurseries sometimes carry Pachira aquatica seedlings for gardeners. Houseplants can be obtained from many stores with stocks of houseplants, especially stores with an interest in Chinese interior design. With houseplants, it is advisable to use rich, well-drained soil that will stay moist without becoming soggy, and to avoid overwatering the plant. Pachira aquatica also favors bright, indirect light and should not be placed in a sunny corner of the house or the leaves may burn.

As a houseplant, Pachira aquatica is usually trained to twine around itself and create a trunk with a braided or twisted look. It is believed to bring good fortune into the home and is sometimes recommended for people arranging their homes in accordance with feng shui standards. The five leaves mirror the five elements of wood, earth, water, fire, and metal. Green plants in general are deemed fortunate additions to the home, especially when they are placed in the corner of the home concerning family wealth and fortune, the location of which varies depending on an individual's astrological chart.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon944128 — On Apr 06, 2014

How do you roast the nuts of the Pachira aquatica?

By anon271280 — On May 25, 2012

How do you roast the nuts of the Pachira aquatica?

By julies — On Dec 23, 2011

@golf07 - I inherited my Pachira aquatica houseplant from my aunt and know she had it for a long time before she passed it on to me.

This plant has been successful at producing nuts on a regular basis. I don't get a lot of them, but I like to dry them and roast them. They taste a lot like peanuts.

I know there are different varieties of this plant, and maybe that has something to do with it.

This is one of my favorite houseplants and my granddaughter refers to it as the braided money plant.

The only trouble I have had is getting the watering part down. If I give it too much water, the leaves turn yellow. If I don't give it enough water, they turn brown and fall off.

I have found it best to make sure the soil stays moist but not wet, and to give it some fertilizer every so often.

Have you tried feeding it fertilizer on a regular basis?

By golf07 — On Dec 22, 2011

Does anyone have one of these houseplants that produces nuts?

I do not have a Pachira aquatica bonsai plant, but a regular plant that I was hoping to get some of the edible nuts with.

I have had this plant for five years, and have not had any luck yet. I love the look of the glossy green leaves and the braided trunk, but would be so excited if it ever produced some nuts.

Should I expect this from a houseplant, or does it need to be planted outside?

By honeybees — On Dec 22, 2011

As long as I can remember my mom has had a Pachira aquatica plant. She always referred to it as the money tree and said it would bring good luck and good fortune.

When I moved into my first apartment, guess what she brought me as a present? Now I have my own Pachira plant.

For the most part I have found this an easy plant to grow. It will always be a houseplant for me as we live in too cold of a climate for it to survive outdoors.

I do notice if I move it much, it will drop a lot of leaves. I have this close to a window on the north side of the apartment so it does not get any direct sunlight.

If I don't move it around and make sure and water it once a week, there isn't much more that needs to be done with it. Now I just plan on having good fortune and prosperity.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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