Guama (Inga edulis)

The guama is a beautiful plant, of tropical origin, that provides a pleasant shade to all those who want to enjoy the outdoors in the garden. But in addition, it can satisfy hunger since its seeds are edible, yes, not freshly picked from the tree.

It is an ideal plant for mild climates, but it can also be had in an interior patio or similar. Find out.

Origin and characteristics of the guama

Image – Flickr/ Mauricio Mercadante

It is a Caucasian tree of the legume family native to America, specifically from Mexico to South America, whose scientific name is Inga edulis. It is called guama, jinicuile, cuajiniquil, cajinicuile, aguatope or guaba, and reaches a height between 4 and 30 meters, with a trunk diameter of up to 1 meter. The roots are shallow and very divided.

Its crown is wide and flattened, made up of long branches from which alternate, pinnate and lanceolate leaves spring 18 to 30 cm long. The flowers are grouped in pedunculated spikes of white color. The fruit is a legume up to 1 meter long by 2cm wide that contains numerous dark-colored, rounded seeds.

What are their cares?

If you want to have a specimen of guama, we recommend you take care of it as follows:


It is a plant that, as long as the weather is good, that is, it is tropical warm or at least temperate, it must be outdoors, in a sunny or partially shaded setting.


  • Garden: grows in soils rich in organic matter and with good drainage.
  • Pots: fill with a mixture of mulch and 30% perlite. You can get the first here and the second here.


Irrigation must be frequent but not daily. In general, with an average of 3 irrigations a week during the hottest season, and with an average of 1 to 2 weekly irrigations the rest of the year, it could be more than enough for your Inga edulis to grow healthy.


It is very important to fertilize it from time to time during spring and summer, since otherwise it could have a little deficient development and/ or growth due to lack of nutrients. Therefore, to avoid this, we recommend fertilizing it with organic products, such as compost, guano, herbivorous animal manure or worm humus, among others, once a month.


Image – Flickr/ Dick Culbert

The guama multiplies by seeds in spring. Let’s see how to proceed:

  1. First, put the seeds in a strainer, and this in a glass of boiling water for 1 second.
  2. Then, put the seeds in a glass of water at room temperature for 24 hours.
  3. After that time, keep the seeds that have sunk (the others will most likely not germinate, although you can sow them in a separate seedbed just in case, since they are not uncommon to give surprises).
  4. Plant them in a seedling tray with seedbed soil.
  5. Then, bury them a little with earth, so that they are not exposed directly to the sun.
  6. Finally, water and place the seedbed outside, in semi-shade.

If all goes well and the soil is kept moist, they will germinate in about 15 days.

Planting or transplanting time

In spring. If you have it in a pot, move it to a larger one with drainage holes at 2 or 3 years.


Remove dry, diseased, broken, or weak branches in fall or late winter. Don’t forget to disinfect pruning tools before and after use to prevent infection.


It is grown in tropical climates with a marked dry season (hence it is deciduous). But as it also lives in some parts of the South American Andean region, it can surely withstand weak frosts down to -2ºC. Anyway, if you want to do experiments, we advise you to buy seeds before you plant.

What uses is given to guama?


It is a very decorative tree, ideal for medium to large gardens that need a little shade. In addition, like all legumes, their roots fix nitrogen to the soil, something that is very useful to other plants since this nutrient is essential for growth to occur.


Legumes contain approximately twelve seeds, which can be eaten cooked in salted water. They taste similar to chickpeas.

Other uses

  • Wood: used to make poles, as firewood, and as charcoal.
  • Reforestation: being very resistant, it is a very interesting plant to reforest land in its places of origin.

Where to buy Inga edulis ?

Image – Wikimedia/ Alejandro Bayer Tamayo

Outside of its origins, it is not a very common plant and therefore it is not easy to find either. However, you can search online stores or nurseries.

What did you think of the guama?

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