The guama (Inga laurina), is a large shady leguminous tree, native to South America. It grows to be about 75 feet high.
The word guama is from the Taino language, and can also mean "headman of the tribe". The Quechua word for it is pacay. In English it has been called "ice cream bean".
It is fast-growing, and its wood can be used for firewood. Its bark is used for making rope. It is commonly planted as a shade tree for cacao plantations. Cows and other livestock will eat the leaves. The trees can be pollarded, which increases their productivity. As with most other legumes, its roots have nodules that contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria, so it improves the fertility of poor-quality soil.
Its seed pods are long, brown, flat, and covered with brown fuzz. Inside the pods are black seeds covered with a white pulp that is good to eat, sweet and smooth-textured. The pods can be as long as a person's arm in some species. In Mexico and Central America, the seeds are sometimes roasted and sold outside movie theaters as a snack.
There are over 10 varieties of guama, with names like "guama macho", "guama meztizo", or "guama prieto".
The Guama River is in Brazil, and there are several towns named Guama all through South and Central America and the Carribean.
Information sources for this node: My dad
, and the book "Lost Crops of the Incas
: Little-Known Plants of the Andes
with Promise for World