Enterolobium cyclocarpum is native to: Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, Mexico, United States of America & Venezuela. It is one of the largest trees in the dry forest formation, reaching up to 40 m in height and 3 m in diameter, with a huge, spreading crown. Older E. cyclocarpum trees develop small buttresses and produce large roots that run along the surface of the ground for 2-3 m. Sidewalks, roads, or foundations may be cracked or raised by E. cyclocarpum trees growing close by. The bipinnate compound leaves of E. cyclocarpum have 5 opposite leaflets. The small white flowers occur in compact, round heads. Seeds contained in distinctive, thickened, contorted, indehiscent pods that resemble an ear in form. (Hence the common name.). Adult trees produce about 2000 pods, each with 10-16 seeds.
Food: Immature pods are cooked as a vegetable, or the seeds are toasted and ground. Fodder: Large quantities of highly palatable and nutritious pods containing a sugary pulp are produced by the tree, and are consumed readily by livestock. The foliage is also palatable, though to a lesser extent than the pods. Fibre: The wood of E. cyclocarpum has been found excellent for producing quality paper. Timber: E. cyclocarpum heartwood is reddish-brown, coarse-textured and moderately durable. The wood is resistant to attack by dry-wood termites and Lyctus, and can be used in house construction as well as in interior elements, including panelling. The white sapwood is susceptible to insect attack. The wood may also be used for boat building, because of its durability in water. Tannin or dyestuff: Tannin from the pods and bark is used in soap making. Medicine: Bark extracts are used medicinally against colds and bronchitis.
Shade or shelter: The wide-spreading canopy of E. cyclocarpum makes it an ideal shade tree for livestock in pasturelands and perennial crops such as coffee. Nitrogen fixing: E. cyclocarpum is a nitrogen-fixing species. Ornamental: A popular tree for roadsides and urban planting. Intercropping: The ability of E. cyclocarpum to fix nitrogen and to sprout vigorously when coppiced point to its possible role as a hedgerow species in alley-cropping systems.
Pests and diseases
E. cyclocarpum has no widespread or serious disease or pest problem. Parrots often prey on the green pods, and the gall-forming moth, Asphondylia enterolobii, may disrupt fruiting. This Heritage Tree had a girth of 5.2m when measured in Year 2001.