This tree grows to 55 feet tall, and has a broad, spreading crown that is nearly flat. The leaves are simply pinnate, with four to six pairs of large, oval leaflets. Its flowers are usually white, and its seeds are covered by a sweet, white powder. The pulp tastes like vanilla ice cream, hence its common name, ice cream bean. In Central America, Inga trees can be seen growing at coffee plantations, where they provide great shade. They attract hummingbirds, and are therefore popular planted near windows.
WHERE IT CAN BE FOUND:
Mexico, Central America, Amazon forest region, Africa
PROPERTIES AND USE:
Used to treat wounds, bronchitis, diarrhea, arthritis, rheumatism, sore muscles, edema, intestinal conditions, headache
For diarrhea, bronchitis, intestinal conditions, and edema, make a decoction with a handful of chopped leaves and bark in 1 gallon water. Boil for 30 minutes. Strain, and sip throughout the day instead of water. For arthritis, rheumatism, and sore muscles, mash the leaves and apply directly to the affected area. The mashed leaves can also be used in a compress for wounds or headaches. For bronchitis, place 1 teaspoon dried leaves in 1/4 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Bring to a boil, and continue stirring until it reaches a syrup-like consistency. Drink by the spoonful.