Malabar chestnut is a small tree with palmately compound leaves. Unbranched when young, leaves grow off the singular the main stem.
Malabar chestnut thrives in low light conditions. As such, it is considered a hard-to-kill indoor plant. Many novice gardeners overwater and kill their houseplants. Native to Central and South American swamps, it can handle soggy conditions. But don’t keep it in standing water. While fast-growing, it doesn’t drop much leaf litter.
The main attraction of this plant is the unique foliage. 5 compound leaves are said to represent the 5 elements: water, earth, metal, wood, fire. To further promote the lucky number 5, stems 5 in number, are braided together when the plants are young. The effect is an eye-catching trunk. Flowers are a group of showy stamens emerging from what looks like a banana peel. Fruit is a capsule. It will naturally fall off and open up to reveal numerous seeds inside.
In its natural state, Malabar chestnut will grow up to 60 feet. Outside in Hawaii, they don’t grow above 15 feet. Inside, the size of the pot will dictate the size of the stem. The seeds readily germinate. Or look under a mature tree growing outside and dig up some keiki; they transplant well.
- Container plant
- No dangers