All About The Guamuchil Tree (Pithecellobium Dulce)
The Guamuchil tree, or Pithecellobium dulce, belongs to the Fabaceae family. It is also known by more than thirty names including: rain tree (Albizia saman), Manila tamarind, madras thorn, vilayati ambli (Gujarati), sweet inga, opiuma, pois sucré, payandé, huamúchil, blackbead, yacure, cuauhmochitl (Nahuatl), tetul (Bengali), seema chinta (Telugu) and ganga imli (Hindi).
A full-grown, spiky tree can rise up to fifty feet. A healthy plant produces flowers after two years. Blooming usually takes place during late winters or early springs, while fruits develop between spring and summer. Mature legumes normally show a rosy exterior. They may also show a white, cream, or tan bloom.
A white pulp called aril grows from the plant’s umbilical cord-looking funicle. A shinier pulp attracts more butterflies, bees and birds. People peel the pods and eat the sweet and sour white pulp. Beneath the white pulp lie black and shiny seeds. The tree’s fast growth produces many seeds that are spread by birds.
This fast-growing plant originated from Mexico. It was introduced to several tropical places, originally intended to merely provide shading in dry lands. It was also planted as ornamental trees on roadsides, hedges, and backyards. Soon, native people, and medical experts discovered its nutritional and medicinal benefits.
Guamuchil Fruit Nutrition & Health Benefits
The sweet and sour Guamuchil fruit is consumed raw. It may season different dishes or add flavor to juices. In rural Mexico and India, some famous recipes with Guamuchil fruits include kodukukai curry, kodukai puli rasam, and kodukai puli kara kolumbu.
The Purdue University Horticulture Department has listed the nutritional content of a 100 gram Guamuchil fruit as follows:
- 78 kcal,
- 77.8% water,
- 3% protein,
- 0.4% fat,
- 18.2% carb,
- 1.2% fiber,
- 0.6% ash,
- 13 mg calcium (or 1.3% RDI),
- 42 mg phosphorous (or 4.2% RDI),
- 0.5 mg iron (or 2.7% RDI),
- 19 mg sodium,
- 222 mg potassium (or 6.3% RDI),
- 15 mg vitamin A,
- 0.24 mg thiamin/B1 (or 16.6% RDI),
- 0.10 mg riboflavin/B2 (or 5.8% RDI),
- 0.60 mg niacin/B6 (or 3% RDI), and
- 133 mg vitamin C (or 221% RDI).
The fruit’s nutritional components contribute to one’s health in different ways. Here are some of them:
- High levels of Vitamin C help boost the immune system, prevent stroke, lessens phlegm, and fight cancer.
- B Vitamins contribute to a person’s nerve and brain functioning, hair and skin health, appetite enhancement, as well as cholesterol control.
- Its calcium content boosts one’s enamel and bones.
- High amounts of thiamine help convert sugar into energy. This helps in maintaining a healthy stress level.
- Its Phosphorous content help restore one’s body.
- Its Iron content helps fight fatigue and treat anemia.
The seeds contain saponins, steroids, glycosides, lipids, phospholipids, polysaccharides and glycolipids. A greenish oil may be extracted from the seeds for its protein content. It can also be used to make soaps.
Despite its benefits, however, pregnant women should avoid consuming the Guamuchil fruit because of its abortifacient property. Regular consumers should also note that mild throat irritations may be caused by white-colored Manila Tamarinds.
Guamuchil Fruit Medicinal Properties
In 2012, a natural product research reported that the Guamuchil plant can be safely consumed. It does not have allergens. People have also reported using the Guamuchil plant for its medicinal purposes. Specific medicinal properties include the following:
Antibacterial and Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Fresh flowers were reported to contain the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory glycoside quercitin. In particular, flowers helped cure pain, fever, burns, infections and swelling.
As astringents, the plant’s bark and leaves helped treat acne and mild skin irritations. Some have used the plant’s pulp to control and stop the bleeding of wounds. When applied like plasters, the leaves have treated pain and venereal sores.
Others take the bark extract to cure chronic diarrhea, fever, constipation, dysentery (or a gastroenteritis characterized by a bloody stool), liver problems caused by oxidative stress, sores, bronchitis, eye inflammation, spleen issues, hemorrhages and dermatitis.
Leaf extracts have been used to treat earaches, depression, muscle tension, mouth ulcers, toothaches, gun problems, leprosy, and larvicide.
Antioxidant or Phenolics Property
In 2011, evidence based complementary and alternative medicine experts discussed liver disease fighting ability of antioxidants found in the Guamuchil fruit.
In another study, leaf extracts were also observed to contain phenolics with flavonoids. These free radical scavengers help in cleansing one’s body from food toxins.
Anti-inflammatory Triterpene Property
The saponin content of the plant seeds were proven to show anti-inflamatorry properties.
Antimicrobial and Anti-tuberculosis Properties
The alcoholic and hexane bark extract have shown a notable antimicrobial action against certain pathogens of mycrobacterium tuberculosis.
The Guamuchil leaf extract has shown anti-diabetic activity in a group of test subjects studied.
Free Radical Scavenging and Anti-Ulcer Properties
In 2012, the Journal of Ethnopharmacology published a study reporting the Guamuchil fruit extracts’ higher anti-ulcer benefits than the standard omeprazole drug. This is caused by the fruit’s free radical properties.
Very Low Toxicity
A study has detected very low amounts of toxicity on the fruit, not causing abnormalities on the test subjects’ overall health.
Guamuchil Tree Cultivation
A gardener must note several factors when planting a Guamuchil tree:
- Environment and Soil Condition – the Guamuchil tree may healthily grow in different tropical and subtropical areas. It can withstand environments with over 40°C of heat, as well as below 5°C of coolness. The soil, however, must be keep from being cold and wet. Moreover, the soil must have a ph of 6.6 to 7.5.
- Deep and well-drained soils are best suited for Guamuchil trees. But people can also plant it on rocky limestones, clays, sands, as well as high water-tabled soils.
- Sun Exposure and Salinity – a Guamichil tree requires full sun exposure. It can tolerate salinity.
- Spiky Surfaces – the tree’s branches are surrounded by sharp spines and skin-irritating surfaces.
- Flower Grouping – when planting, the small flowers must be grouped in dense, small, and spherical heads. Each group may comprise of twenty to thirty flowers. Each group should also measure 7-12 mm in diameter.
- Seeds Storage – the seeds may be stored within six months. They must also be safeguarded from insects.
- Regeneration Control – to prevent plant regeneration, glyphosate can be put on stumps. Herbicide may also be applied. This can control seedlings and small plants.
- Pests and Diseases – though usually negligible, diseases can infect leaf spots. Pests can also cause defoliation. The thornbug is an example of a common plant insect.
The Guamuchil tree is a relatively easy-to-cultivate and fast-growing plant. The plant has also shown several nutritional and medicinal effects. Gardeners, however, should be cautious of its spiny surfaces. Consumers should also be aware of its negative effects and be properly guided on how to use it safely.