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Inga vera (L.) Britton


Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.

  1. Uses
  2. Folk Medicine
  3. Chemistry
  4. Description
  5. Germplasm
  6. Distribution
  7. Ecology
  8. Cultivation
  9. Harvesting
  10. Yields and Economics
  11. Energy
  12. Biotic Factors
  13. References


Frequently used as a shade tree for coffee and cacao, and as an avenue shade tree. The seeds are surrounded by an edible pulp, often consumed on the spot. With flowers rich in nectar and attractive to bees, the guaba is a good honey producer. The timber is used for boxes, crates, furniture, general carpentry, and light construction. According to Little and Wadsworth (1964), however, the wood is used almost solely for posts, fuel, and charcoal.

Folk Medicine

Reported to be astringent and diuretic.


Per 100 g, the aril of one species of Inga is reported to contain (ZMB): 353 calories, 5.9 g protein, 0.6 g fat, 91.1 g total carbohydrate, 7.1 g fiber, 2.4 g ash, 123 mg Ca, 118 mg P, 5.3 mg Fe, 1 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.24 mg thiamine, 0.35 mg riboflavin, 2.35 mg niacin, and 53 mg ascorbic acid. The species was reported under non-hemagglutinating (Toms and Western, 1971).


Evergreen tree to 20 m tall to nearly 0.5 m (some say 1 m) in diameter, the crown widely spreading but thin. The bark is gray brown, smooth at first, becoming finely fissured. Leaves paripinnate, hairy, the rhachis winged, with 3–5 pairs of leaflets, each with a gland between them; leaflets 5–15 cm long, 2.5–7 cm long, entire. Flower clusters lateral, whitish, with long filiform stamens to 7.5 cm long, soon wilting. Corolla greenish-yellow, hairy, calyx brownish-green, hairy, 5-toothed, often splitting on one side. Pod brown, densely hairy, 10–15 cm long, slightly four-ribbed, rounded, the few brown seeds imbedded in the whitish edible pulp.


Reported from the West Indian Center of Diversity, guaba, or cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate drought and limestone.


Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico, widely introduced elsewhere (Little and Wadsworth, 1964).


Ranging from Tropical Very Dry to Wet through Subtropical Dry to Wet Forest Life Zones, guaba is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 9.8 to 40.2 dm (mean of 39 cases—18.4), annual temperature of 18.0 to 27.7°C (mean of 33 cases = 25.1), and estimated pH of 6 to 8.5.


Seeds should be separated from the fermentable pulp shortly after collecting. Pods are macerated and the seeds separated, using copious amounts of water. Seeds germinate rapidly, sometimes even viviparously, but are short-lived, especially when dried.


Trees tend to flower and fruit all year in Puerto Rico, with most of the fruits appearing in fall (September–October). Trees coppice well (NAS, 1980a).

Yields and Economics

A fast growing species, the trunk diameter often grows more than 2.5 cm in diameter per year. It is said to produce coffee shade within 3 years.


The moderately heavy wood (specific gravity 0.57) makes excellent fuel and is used for charcoal throughout the West Indies.

Biotic Factors

Agriculture Handbook No. 165 lists the following diseases for Inga vera: Bitzea ingae (rust), Catacauma ingae (black mildew), Cephaleuros virescens (green scruf), Diatractium ingae, Irenopsis toruloidea (black mildew), Melasmia ingae (on leaves), Meliola chagres (black mildew), Microstroma ingaicola (witches'-broom), Microthyrium ingae (on leaves), Mycosphaerella maculiformis (on fallen leaves), Omphalia flavida (leaf spot), Paradiopsis ingarum (black mildew), Paradiopsis stevensii, Perisporina truncatum (black mildew), Phyllachora amphibola (on leaves), Ravenelia ingae (rust), Rosellinia bunodes (root rot), Scolecodothopsis ingae (black spot), Scolecopeltis ingae (black spot), and Septoideum stevensii (on leaves). The wood is very susceptible to attack by drywood termites and other insects and to decay in contact with the ground.


Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
Last update Wednesday, January 7, 1998 by aw