Enterolobium Cyclocarpum - Cultivation and Uses

Cultivation and Uses

The Guanacaste is among the most majestic and esthetically pleasing of tree species in its native range. Tolerant of a wide range of rainfall levels, temperatures and soil conditions, they can thrive in most low-elevation, tropical habitats. Guanacaste trees are highly valued as ornamentals and the shade they provide creates many an oasis on the searing and sun-baked plains in its Pacific slope habitat.

It is widely grown as a shade tree to shelter coffee plantations and for shade and forage for cattle; it also improves soil fertility by nitrogen fixation. Guanacaste is in USDA Growth Zones 10-12.

The wood is reddish-brown, lightweight (density 0.34–0.6 g/cm³) and water-resistant; it is used to make items such as doors, windows, furniture, cabinets, and for shipbuilding. The town of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle in Nayarit (Mexico) derives its name from the fact that a cross used to stand there made of Guanacaste wood.

While the seed pods are still green, they are harvested and the seeds eaten boiled in Mexico. Healthy Guanacaste trees generate massive, nearly annual crops of seeds. The attractive seeds are used in Costa Rica to make jewelry. These seeds demonstrate germination rates of nearly 100%. Guanacaste seedlings then grow rapidly, often reaching over one meter in height in their first year of life. These aggressive reproductive characteristics might be beneficially exploited in reforestation projects; on the other hand, the plant is considered an invasive species in some places. Its roots are strong and those of large trees may damage nearby structures.

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