Inga vera

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Related Links
Flowering branch of Inga vera near Juigalpa, south-central Nicaragua.
© Colin E. Hughes
Flowers of I. vera showing the long white stamen filaments which are untied at the base into a staminal tube. In common with many species of Inga, I. vera flowers at night.
© Colin E. Hughes
Adult tree of I. vera subsp. affinis: Southern Minas Gerais State, Brazil.
© Soraya Alvarenga Botelho
4-year-old I. vera subsp affinis: Partially submersed at the margin of a dam in Southern Minas Gerais State, Brazil.
© Soraya Alvarenga Botelho
Sucker of I. vera subsp affinis
© Soraya Alvarenga Botelho
Fruiting tree of I. vera subsp. affinis: Southern Minas Gerais State, Brazil.
© Soraya Alvarenga Botelho
Fruit of I. vera subsp. affinis: Branch with mature fruits.
© Soraya Alvarenga Botelho

Local names:
Creole (sikren,pwa dou), English (river-koko,pan chock), French (sucrin,sucrier,pois sucrin,pois doux à paille,pois doux), Spanish (inga,guavo,guamá jina,guamà,guaba nativa,guaba)

Inga vera is a medium-sized evergreen tree 12-18 m tall, with trunk 30-60 cm in diameter (sometimes to 20 m tall and 1 m in diameter) with a widely spreading crown of long branches and thin foliage. Bark grey-brown, fairly smooth but becoming finely fissured; inner bark pinkish to brown. Twigs brown, often zigzag, with dense brown hairs when young. 

Leaves alternate in 2 rows, pinnately compound, 18-30 cm long; axis 6-18 cm long, brown, hairy, with a green wing 6-10 mm broad. Leaflets 3-7 pairs, slightly drooping, stalkless, with a tiny round gland between each pair, elliptical to oblong, 5-15 x 2.5-7 cm, larger from base towards the end, long pointed at tip and short pointed at base, not toothed on edges, thin and slightly convex, slightly hairy, especially on veins, upper surface green, underneath pale green. 

Flower clusters 1-4 on base of leaf or at end of twig, consisting of several stalkless flowers crowded near end of hairy stalk, only 1 or 2 open daily. Each flower 6-7.5 x 7.5-9 cm, with many threadlike white stamens. Flower fully expanded at dawn but soon wilts in daylight. Calyx tubular, cylindrical, 5-toothed, corolla a narrow cylindrical tube about 15 mm long with 5 short spreading lobes, greenish-yellow with dense brown hairs; numerous stamens united into a tube inside the corolla; pistil with long narrow ovary and very slender style. 

Pods nearly cylindrical, narrow, 10-20 cm long, 1-2 cm wide, 4-ribbed, with 2 long grooves, slightly curved, densely hairy, brown, with calyx at base, not splitting open. Seeds few, beanlike, black, in white, sweetish, edible pulp.

The name ‘inga’ is derived from its name with the Tupi Indians of South America. The specific Latin name, ‘vera’, means ‘true’ or ‘genuine’. Based on material collected in Jamaica, this species was the first to be named and the one upon which the classification of the rest of this large genus was based.


I. vera is suitable to the climate of the humid tropics with a high rainfall.

Native range
Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico

Tree management

A fast-growing species, the trunk often grows more than 2.5 cm in diameter in a year. Trees coppice well. On lower slopes and along streams, this tree grows very rapidly, producing sufficient shade for coffee within 3 years.

Seed storage behaviour is recalcitrant. Lowest safe mc of cotyledons is 40%; lowest safe embryo mc is 52%; seeds cannot survive desiccation below 25% mc and embryos below 40% mc.

I. vera is suitable to the climate of the humid tropics with a high rainfall.

Shortly after collecting, pods are macerated and the seeds separated from the fermentable pulp using copious amounts of water. Seeds germinate rapidly, sometimes even viviparously, but are short lived, especially when dried.

 Seeds of this and many other species of Inga are enclosed in sugary edible pulp.

Apiculture: With flowers rich in nectar and attractive to bees, the tree is a good honey source.

The moderately heavy wood makes excellent fuel and is used for charcoal throughout the West Indies.

Timber: Sapwood whitish and heartwood pale brown to golden brown with longitudinal streaks or patches of darker brown, often shaded with green or yellow. Wood moderately hard, slightly heavy (specific gravity 0.57-0.59), strong and tough. The timber is suitable for utility furniture, boxes, crates, light construction, posts and general carpentry. 

Shade or shelter: Frequently used as a shade tree for coffee and cacao and as an avenue shade tree.

Medicine: Macerated bark is taken orally for anaemia, a root decoction for gallstones, and fruit pulp for constipation. Reported to be astringent and diuretic.

Nitrogen fixing: Widely grown with other species for its good nitrogen-fixing ability.

Intercropping: This leguminous shade tree is often planted with coffee.