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PlantFiles: Manilla Tamarind, Madras Thorn
Pithecellobium dulce

Family: Mimosaceae
Genus: Pithecellobium (pith-eh-sell-LOH-bee-um) (Info)
Species: dulce (DUL-see) (Info)

5 members have or want this plant for trade.


over 40 ft. (12 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 ░C (30 ░F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 ░C (35 ░F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 ░C (40 ░F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction
Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
This plant is fire-retardant

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From woody stem cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Click thumbnail
to view:

By Chamma
Thumbnail #1 of Pithecellobium dulce by Chamma

By Chamma
Thumbnail #2 of Pithecellobium dulce by Chamma

By xxjohnxx
Thumbnail #3 of Pithecellobium dulce by xxjohnxx


4 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive genoblade On Feb 22, 2015, genoblade from Fresno, CA wrote:

Live in the California central valley ...I been looking to get this tree for over a year and found one at my local home depot, I bought it in May 2014 and was doing pretty good but on February 2015 wile I was out on business there was a frost and the tree appears to have died.... the branches are black and there are no leaves...

I'm looking to get another tree, seeds or cuttings. Please contact me

Neutral JeffreyCaldwell On Nov 30, 2012, JeffreyCaldwell from Waldon, CA wrote:

Pithecellobium dulce has many names, and is also known as Guamuchil. At the southern tip of Texas it serves as caterpillar forage -- a hostplant -- for a beautiful strikingly-colored butterfly, the Red-bordered Pixie (Melanis pixie, Riodinidae, the metalmark family) -- an atypical species that flies in overcast and even drizzly weather and may be found in the shade on sunny days.

Positive Yaya7 On Oct 11, 2009, Yaya7 from Laredo, TX wrote:

The fruit is sweet. But what I like is that it appears to be a magnet for songbirds. They love the pods!

On the downside, the seeds will sprout everywhere!

Positive DawnRain On Feb 26, 2005, DawnRain from Bartow, FL wrote:

I bought this fruit from some Mexican people at a farmers market north of Plant City. I found the fruit to have a texture and taste like dried coconut and raisins. Very good. Each piece of white fruit surrounded a hard black seed which germinated easily.

Then I spend a couple of years trying to find out what I had. It is indeed prickly and to be handled with care. But blackberries are worse. And if it fruits for me, I will be very happy with it. It is definitely easy to grow

Positive Skrontsch On Dec 29, 2003, Skrontsch wrote:

Pithecellobium dulce is one of the most common trees of the Mexican highlands. Its Nahuatl (Aztec) name was cuauhm˘chitl (pronounced kwah-ooh-'mau-chittal), the "popcorn tree", cuahu(itl) meaning "tree", and m˘chitl, "popcorn". (The pre-Columbian Mexicans "invented" popcorn.) In fact, the white, sweet and edible flesh around its seeds strongly resembles popcorn, both in shape and in texture. Even today, the most common Mexican name of the tree is guam˙chil (pronounced gwah-ooh-'moo-chill), an obvious corruption of its Aztec name.

When ripe, the pods burst open, so it is very easy to pick the sweet flesh which is still a very popular snack among Mexican farmers, especially kids. In some places, it is also used in atoles (gruels) which, as always in Mexico, are sipped from a mug rather than eaten with a spoon out of a bowl.

On a personal note, it was the experience of being fed some of that natural "popcorn" straight from the tree by some Mexican kids that turned me into a plant lover!

Neutral Chamma On May 19, 2003, Chamma from Tennille, GA (Zone 8b) wrote:

It is not a pretty tree to landscape with and it is very thorny and spikey. It has a spreading habit with irregular brancehs. Leaves are deciduous but new leaves appear while the old ones are being shed. Flowers are small whitish-greenish color with often a sweet smell. The fruits or legumes are redish color and about 10-12" long. There are approximately 10 seeds in each pod. The pods pods are irregular and flat in shape and are spiraled. The fruit is sweet and have a chestnut sort of flavor. They are often used in making drinks. The flowers attract bees and it said to make a wonderful honey. The bark is very high in tannin and the tree also produces a gum similar to gum arabic.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Fresno, California
Bradley, Florida
Merritt Island, Florida
Harlingen, Texas
Houston, Texas
Laredo, Texas

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