Native to riverbanks, swamps and lakes of the Brazilian Amazon, it has been cultivated for thousands of years. Inga pods have long been a favourite snack for many people in Central and South America, although the tree is still undervalued outside these regions. Inga Bean is part of the family Leguminosae, nitrogen fixing plant. Nitrogen fixing bacteria form nodules on the plant roots providing the plant with nitrogen that they fix from the air. Known as the Ice Cream Bean tree.
This attractive tree creates a dappled shade or an interesting background tree with its rich dark green and bronze coloured fern-like foliage. Reaches a height of 15m in its native country but in New Zealand will only reach about 6-8 metres.
The seeds are a good source of protein.
How to Eat
Pods up to 1 metre long contain sweet, juicy, white pulp that has a soft cotton wool texture and tastes of vanilla ice-cream. "A delectable snack that comes in its own natural wrapper" which is loved by children. Can be eaten fresh or used as flavouring for deserts. Seeds can be cooked and eaten like a vegetable, in Mexico they roast and sell as a snack.
Trees start producing pods in 3 years.
Generic Fruiting Time
Prefers full sun and will flower and fruit best in these conditions but will tolerate semi-shade.
They are not very wind hardy. But will tolerate some salt in sheltered conditions.
Inga Bean is not frost hardy but will tolerate brief frosts. If they are exposed to long frost periods the plant will dry back but will come away in the spring. Most suited to warm temperate climates.
Easy to grow, low maintenance tree that will grow in poorer soils. They will even grow in a wide range of ph from 4.0 to 8.5. Inga Bean will handle some water logging and short drought periods.
Frost tender. Protect from frost especially while young thou will recover from light frosts.
As the plant produces its own nitrogen a fertiliser is not necessary unless it grows in a water logged conditions.
Minimal pruning required to maintain desired shape and size. Remove dead or diseased branches.
Seem to be resistant to most problems.