(Pachira aquatica)

zapaton flower

Zapatone bloom

Zapatone bloom

finished zapaton wood

    Family: Bombacaceae
    Genus: Pachira
    Species: P. aquatica
    Common names: Malabar chestnut, Guiana chestnut, provision tree, saba nut, and is commercially sold under the name money tree
    Part Used: seeds, Bark, wood

Documented Properties
& Actions:
Analgesic, Anemia, Anticonvulsant, Antidepressant, Antimicrobial, Antiseptic, Aphrodisiac, Bactericidal, build blood, kidney pain, Cephalic, Deodorant, Stimulant, Tonic
Essential Oils, Lemonoids

Pachira aquatica can grow up to 18 meters in height in the wild. It has shiny green palmate leaves and smooth green bark. Its showy flowers have long, narrow petals that open like a banana peel to reveal hairlike yellowish orange stamens. The tree is cultivated for its edible nuts which grow in a very large, woody pod. The nuts are light brown, striped with white. They are said to taste like peanuts, and can be eaten raw or cooked or ground into a flour to make bread. The leaves and flowers are also edible.

The tree in general is very useful in that the seeds can be pressed to make a milky industrial grade oil. The bark was once used as caulking for ships but is still used to make rope. The inner wood of the tree is a soft white wood used for making crates and toys.

A popular beverage tea to build blood in old age, to treat anemia and exhaustion, and for low blood pressure. For kidney pain, cut a seed from the fruit in quarters; boil in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes and drink before breakfast for 3 days. Boil a piece of bark 2.5 x 10 cm in 3 cups of water for 10 minutes; drink 1/2 cup 6 times a day as a general tonic for building blood and strength.

The tree grows well as a tropical ornamental in moist, frost-free areas, and can be started from seed or cutting. It is a durable plant and will adapt very well to different conditions. The pachira needs plenty of sunlight though it is important to avoid direct sunlight during the summer months as the leaves may get sunburnt.

Asia In East Asia, Pachira aquatica (Chinese:"Malabar chestnut") is often referred to as the "money tree". The tree had long been popular as an ornamental in Japan. In 1986, a Taiwanese truck driver first cultivated five small trees in a single flowerpot with their trunks braided. The popularity of these ornamentals took off in Japan and later much of the rest of East Asia. They are symbolically associated with good financial fortune and are typically seen in businesses, sometimes with red ribbons or other auspicious ornamentation attached. The trees play an important role in Taiwan's agricultural export economy with exports of NT$250 million (US$7 million) in 2005.