The money tree (Pachira aquatica), also known as the Guiana chestnut, grows 60 feet in height in its native home of Central and northern South America. When grown in captivity, the tree rarely tops 30 feet in height and often grows as a large shrub only. Widely cultivated in parts of Hawaii, Southern California and Florida, the money tree requires a tropical location to thrive. It grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 to 11.
The tree produces flowers from huge buds that measure 14 inches in length. Flowers appear in large creamy clusters. The petals peel backward in a strap-like fashion to reveal long red and white stamens. The flowers droop downward on the tree.
Large, 12-inch long woody, husked fruit appear following flowering. Each pod is shaped like a football and measures 5 inches in diameter. The interior of the pod is packed with large 1/2-inch seeds. As the seeds ripen within the pod, it bursts open to shed the seeds. The seeds are edible. They are often eaten raw or fried. When ground, they produce ample flour for bread making. The leaves of the tree are also a favorite cooked food.
The money tree is a swamp tree and grows in wetlands in its native homeland. It prefers areas that are flooded at least part of the year. When grown in the ideal water habitat, the tree develops stilted roots. The tree will grow outside of a swamp environment but requires ample water to survive. When grown in moist soil, the tree rarely develops the stilted root appearance it does in a flooded location.
The money tree requires tropical, humid temperatures. It will tolerate a temperature drop to 28 degrees F, but the tree will rapidly drop leaves.
The money tree is a popular houseplant. Two trees often inhabit one pot with a braided trunk for a unique appearance. As a houseplant, the trees normally only attain a height of 8 feet. When grown indoors, the tree rarely flowers.
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