Inga/Ice Cream Bean plant — Bernie Storch variety


From the LA Times

Oct. 2, 2012

“When it comes to drought-tolerant, fast-growing shade trees, few are as useful as the ice cream bean tree, Inga edulis (and its 300-plus related species). Although it grows like a tree, the ice cream bean actually is a legume. It can grow 60 feet or longer, and after four years in the ground it starts putting out foot-long pods packed with lima bean-size seeds swaddled in an edible, sweet, cottony covering.

“When we went hunting in [El] Salvador and we are thirsty, we eat it,” said Manuel Cisneros, the agricultural project coordinator at the Growing Experience, an urban farm at the Carmelitos housing development in Long Beach. “In Salvador they don’t grow at sea level, but here they do. It grows so easily. If you throw the seed on the ground, the next year you will see a tree there.”

Ice cream bean plants are native to a large region spanning from Puerto Rico to Mexico to the Amazon, where the pods can reach 3 feet. The plants often grow near rivers and are spread by birds and monkeys that adore the beans encased in the leathery shells.

Coffee and cacao farmers also plant ice cream bean for its canopy of shade and its ability to fix nitrogen in the soil, making it more fertile. Ice cream bean also is used for reforestation projects, valued for rapid growth as well as its tolerance of acidic soils. Thanks to the plant’s broad leaves, weeds rarely get established beneath it.

The plant can grow in a container, although you won’t get as many pods. It won’t need any nitrogen fertilizer, but it will benefit from potassium additives, especially if it’s dropping leaves. It can be pruned to be kept low, but be careful of cutting too much. A few branches should be left alone.”

3 in stock


From Charles Portney who got it from Bernie Storch, i.e. a very well-pedigreed Inga


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