Malabar Chestnut

This evergreen tree grows up to around 15 feet.  It has a big buttress and short stubby roots which hold great amounts of water, thus a drought resistant tree.  The nut has a hard shell and splits open when ripe, releasing around 15 fingernail size seeds.  If the seeds are soaked overnight in water they will split and begin to germinate like a bean but with two compressed leaves already formed.  These germinating seedlings can be eaten raw or lightly cooked/fried in combination with other dishes of one's own choice.  They are among the best nuts in terms of flavour and taste.

A grafted tree will bear fruit around 2 years and seedlings within 5 years.  In some African countries, the tree is grown commercially for making flour from the nuts.  This will be a good substitute for people intolerant to eating wheat flour products. Because the plant needs little water to survive and the flowers are highly scented, this tree is widely treasured as a gift plant and as a bonsai in Taiwan and Japan.

Authored by: 
Jude Lai
Sourced from: 
STFC newsletter Dec 2000
Date sourced: 
Dec 2000