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Ice cream bean fruits

Ice cream bean fruits

Hi all,

I have an ice cream bean that is at least 5 years old that flowers alot but has not been able to set fruit. Do these trees need cross pollination or not and how do I get it to set fruit.
I also have a 7 year old White Sapote that sets fruit, but has dropped it all when the fruits are tiny. What can I do to keep them?
The tree is very healthy.

Thanks in advance.
I am from Adelaide South Australia

The following thread was started by lvan on January 13, 2008 at 6:18 pm PST


Gday Ivan,

IN SA heat is probably not the problem for either tree, but water probably is. I have found my 1000mm rainfall in NZ is totally insufficient for white sapote, they drop their fruit if at all dry. I usually get about 30 or so fruit from a tree that sets thousands of fruit. A friend waters here trees and gets bucketloads. I suggest heaps of water from flowering onwards, don't be fooled by the apparant healthy look of the foliage.

My Inga edulis sets pods by itself in a very marginal climate area. I have heard Inga vera is more touchy. Which is yours?

Do you know of any papaya fruiting reliably in Adelaide? I didn't see any last time I was there, and am curious. Summers are certainly hot enough!

The above followup was added by Ben on January 13, 2008 at 6:42 pm PST.

Inga Edulis, Vera, or Affinis

There's a third species called inga affinis that comes from the southeast coast of South America, like Uruguay.

I have a large ice cream bean that has been blooming and setting fruit since it's been three feet tall. However, only the late Summer bloom sets a lot f fruit. I've noticed that the more I fertilize it and water it properly, the more it sets fruit.

I've also heard of inga trees that won't set fruit until they are large enough and old enough. You may want to wait another year or two.

They don't need a cross-pollinator, mine is the only flowering/fruiting outdoor inga I know of North of Point Conception, that means it's over 200 miles to the next inga tree. So mine sets fruit on its own.

The above followup was added by Axel on January 13, 2008 at 6:53 pm PST.

Fruiting Ice Cream Bean

Mine fruits great, and I have a real cool climate, Summer lows around 10C, Summer highs around 20-30C.

Here's a picture of a branch loaded with fruits.

The above followup was added by Axel on January 13, 2008 at 7:00 pm PST.

in the future...

Very cool! This is another one I have been thinking about ordering for some time, but right now it is too cold here. The seeds would not survive in the mailbox. :-(

Axel - is yours in a container? How tall is it? Do you think it could be kept in a very large planter & kept at 8 ft height? How old is yours? Does it really taste like ice cream?? :-)

The above followup was added by Denise on January 13, 2008 at 7:16 pm PST.

Ivan, your sapote

Ivan most White sapotes need a pollinator and yours will be one that does by the sound of it. What variety is it?

The above followup was added by Jason on January 13, 2008 at 8:57 pm PST.

Ice Cream Bean Trees are giant

Denise, mine is in the ground. However, the type of inga I have seems to be compatible to be in a pot. It fruited when only three feet tall.

I have seedlings, and I will have seeds to send you when the fruits ripen in June.

The above followup was added by Axel on January 13, 2008 at 9:32 pm PST.

Ice Cream Bean?...Intriguing! :-o

I have never tasted Ice Cream Bean.
What they exactly taste...vanilla ice cream?
The same consistency? fragrance?
or you have to apply something on?

The above followup was added by Francesco on January 13, 2008 at 11:33 pm PST.

My tree is doing well in our cold weather

Axel, I have one about 4' tall that appears to be very happy in the ground despite some cool nights. At what point in the year do you begin to feed yours? They're fun fruit and I would really like to get this tree to produce early.

The above followup was added by Merbert on January 13, 2008 at 11:44 pm PST.

Very large trees and love water, so be careful

I have read that and seems like some one of our friends down under gave that warning too.

I have talked to a few other growing, doing hardy tropical damp forest type trees and after the trees get big, the roots can be very invasive and destructive. The can uplift or invade septic and leach field systems and any are where water is more prominent in your yard.

We have had discussions on this in the past here with similar conclusions.


The above followup was added by DavidLJ48, Waterford CA, zone14 on January 14, 2008 at 0:43 am PST.

Unknown varieties

I think the ice cream is Inga Edulis. But the Sapote is an unknown variety.
I will give the ice cream bean one more year then its going into a pot. My back yard is small so only worthwhile fruits are staying.
I agree with of the feedback above that the ice cream bean has the potential to be a weed. It has a nasty habit of spreading like crazy.
Unfortunately I really want to taste what it's like :-)

The above followup was added by Ivan on January 14, 2008 at 4:51 am PST.


Mine has been plagued with ants for years..with the last years plus extra, water, i have a bumper crop of Suebelle's.
Anybody ever have a Sapote die from pests?..its almost like they depend on them. I could be reading more into my one Subelle..

The above followup was added by Stan17 on January 14, 2008 at 5:59 am PST.

Isnt there a ice cream bean vine?

Could have sworn there is a vine called ice cream.

The above followup was added by STAN17 on January 14, 2008 at 6:01 am PST.

Sapote pollinator

Ivan if you can get an "Ortega" or a "Vernon" sapote either of those will pollinate your tree if it's a Spring/Summer flowering one. I can send you a stick or two if you can't find one of those and are comfortable grafting one. The good news is as soon as the new tree flowers you will get heaps of big fruit on the mature tree. Vernon flowers very quickly but Ortega may perhaps make more and better pollen

The above followup was added by Jason on January 14, 2008 at 7:22 am PST.


But Vernon is very good and flowers and fruit heavily :)

The above followup was added by Jason on January 14, 2008 at 7:22 am PST.

Merbert, Ice Cream Bean

Merbert, ice cream beans are notorious for taking a long time to fruit. A friend of mine who lives in Israel had to wait 7 years before his started to fruit, and in Tel Aviv, they have very hot Summers. In fact, his tree had to reach 30 feet, then it started to fruit like crazy.

I got mine at Jurassic nursery in the North Bay that sold them as Carambola. They had no idea what they were selling, and I got interested when I saw that Noffsinger had bought one from them thinking it was carambola, and it was thriving in the Santa Cruz mountains at 1200 feet elevation. The unusual thing about mine is that it started to fruit the same Summer I planted it into the ground, and it was only three feet tall back then.

Where did you get yours?

For those of you who have never tasted Ice Cream Bean, it's definitely a fun fruit to eat, but it's not in the same league as white sapote or cherimoyas. It's more of a curiosity, as the pods contain big seeds, and each seed is coated with a white fuzz that has a vanilla ice cream bean flavor. So you'd have to process about a 1,000 beans to get about a cup of edible fruit flesh.

I don't know if you can eat the beans themselves, they're pretty hard, so if they are even edible, one would have to cook them. Of course, don't eat them unless you have a reliable source that says it's ok to eat.

Here's a picture of the fruits next to cherimoyas and other Andean crops.

The above followup was added by Axel on January 14, 2008 at 8:00 am PST.

Cross pollinators for white sapotes

I have to say that I noticed my white sapote trees set massive amounts of fruit since more than one variety started to bloom. In my climate, most of them seem ever bearing, even McDill. It seems the yoyo action between warm and cold gets them going.

Many of them are blooming right now, and Suebelle is setting fruit too.

The above followup was added by Axel on January 14, 2008 at 8:10 am PST.

I have gotten both hardy varieties of Ice Cream Bean at Trade wind Fruit

And they have never failed to sprout for me, at least when the seed is fresh. Usually when I have ordered them in the past, they have arrived already sprouted with short 1/2 to 1 inch roots.

I have gotten Inga edulis and Inga feuillei.
The Inga feullei does seem hardier somewhat, and tolerates more light when in the juvenile stage, as well more summer heat. I only have one left of the edulis and two of the feullei. I had them away from the house last winter in the freeze, only covered with Home Depot shade cloth. They were only 6 inches tall and not all that hardy yet, and in pots which most likely didn't help either.


The above followup was added by DavidLJ48, Waterford CA, zone14 on January 14, 2008 at 9:41 am PST.

My Inga edulis from Top Tropicals

I know that people badmouth Top Tropicals, but I've gotten some really fine plants from them. This one pushed new growth from the time I took it out of the box and has weathered wind, heat and cold very well. I've planted it in a place where it may grow as tall as it desires and there are little concerns about invasive roots.

The above followup was added by Merbert on January 14, 2008 at 10:33 am PST.

Ice Cream Bean ...& vine

Axel - if you have some seeds to spare in June, that would be awesome! Thanks!

STAN17 - perhaps you are thinking of chocolate vine? (Akebia quinata.) ??

The above followup was added by Denise on January 14, 2008 at 5:41 pm PST.

Nothing chocolate about Akebia quinata

I've grown Akebia quinata for over 20 years. There is nothing chocolate-like about either the flowers or the fruit. The fruit smells like a cross between mignonette and raspberry and the fruit is sweet and a "tropical".

The above followup was added by Merbert on January 14, 2008 at 9:11 pm PST.

Pics of Akebia quinata?

Merbert - I would love to know anything else you can think of about Akebia quinata. Do you have any pics of your? I have a small one I got last fall & still need to repot, but am wondering how much I'll like this plant. I have a difficult time finding unique, edible plants for my climate here (zone 5b, South Bend, IN). I have the Passiflora incarnata that can survive the winters outside here, and pawpaw,....but this cold weather is very limiting! Akebia quinata should do fine once bigger & might even be invasive like the P. incarnata.

The above followup was added by Denise on January 15, 2008 at 4:10 am PST.

It might just take some time...

I have a 5-year-old ice cream bean tree...and it hasn't fruited yet. It's a very fast grower--mine is almost 20' tall (and almost as wide). It's had several periods where it's flowered heavily...including in this pic from Nov. '07...but nothing to show for it yet (other than the enjoyment of the blooms)...

The above followup was added by Brandt--San Diego on January 15, 2008 at 9:51 am PST.

I'll look for pics - in the meantime

Denise, it's really beautiful. When established, the vines are dense, lush and the 5-leaf configuration is very attractive. Because the stems are wiry, you can do anything you want with it to train it or to let it become a rampant mass, traveling huge distances. It can root whenever a stem touches the ground and it also creates runners. When in bloom, the scent of the little bells is absolutely divine. Each flower looks like a sphere that has been split open, revealing deep glistening stamens. Flower color varies from white through deep lilac mauve. Cross pollination is required for fruits which are very refreshing. They truly do look like blue sausages that split open to reveal pearly white pulp.

The above followup was added by Merbert on January 15, 2008 at 9:54 am PST.

Lots of data online, with a google search

Interesing, is condersidered invasive, but normally does not produce fruit or seeds, so ???? Read for your self.



gov. warning about being invasive.

Here is the entire google seach link:

The above followup was added by DavidLJ48, Waterford CA, zone14 on January 15, 2008 at 10:04 am PST.

It can be invasive

One year I failed to cut mine back and paid the price for years to come. I found it everywhere.

As for flowering, every cutting I've given away flowers profusely and some have gone as far as New Jersey, Ohio and South Carolina. If you want fruit, you need two varieties.

The above followup was added by Merbert on January 15, 2008 at 12:26 am PST.

Brandt, nice Ice Cream Bean

Looks great, you should start getting fruit soon. I wonder if it might need a cross pollinator.

The above followup was added by Axel on January 15, 2008 at 1:54 pm PST.

Huge tree..

Thats a big tree. Kinda obvious in the mimosa family with those flowers.
Just looking at the net..needs hand pollination or cross pollination pops up here and there.
Something about native bees and weevils. Maybe plant a bee plant close by?...whats that plant that bees love?..easy to get. And bees do go for it..a neighbor has one.

The above followup was added by STAn17* on January 15, 2008 at 3:37 pm PST.

Thanks, Axel!

I'm not sure--but my guess is that it's like some other fruits (like pineapple guavas) that perform better with a cross pollinator but don't require one. I guess I'll find out in the next few years--if it still doesn't produce fruit then, then I'll be convinced that at least mine needs one.

There's always the chance that when or not cross pollination is required is species dependent. There are hundreds of Inga species out there (but only a few that are "cool-hardy" enough for California, most notably Inga edulis--probably a highland provenance--and Inga feuillei). I don't know the difference between the two, so I can't say which one I have.

The above followup was added by Brandt--San Diego on January 15, 2008 at 3:40 pm PST.


Hand pollination probably shouldn't be a problem. I actually do have bees in the back yard--occasionally a few too many (especially when my oregano was getting out of control!!!)--but they tend not to go into my front yard where the Inga is.

The above followup was added by Brandt--San Diego on January 15, 2008 at 3:42 pm PST.

You forgot Inga affinis, hardy to -4C

Brandt, inga affinis is even hardier, down to -4C from what the literature reports. It's a version of Inga from the colder Winter locations in Southeastern South America.

The above followup was added by Axel on January 16, 2008 at 7:59 am PST.

Hardier Inga, did not find much data online about the affinis

What data sources do you have. Toptropicals has sata and nice pics, but not in stock.

Garden of Delight has them for $30 something, but does not readily show the size.


The above followup was added by DavidLJ48, Waterford CA, zone14 on January 16, 2008 at 11:28 am PST.

Brandt ...Budleja?

Might not be spelled correct..but the butterfly bush if planted by a half dozen near your tree could help Brandt. Very inexpensive plant and easy to find.

..and Brandt pay no attention to the crap going on..i have worked for Museums and Universitys in science,biology departments. One troubled trouble maker just cant let things go with me.

The above followup was added by STan on January 16, 2008 at 1:53 pm PST.

inga sessilis is from southern Brazil

and the common name is inga' macaco.

Marc Camargo nursery
Visit us at
Our motto: "Preservation by dissemination"

The above followup was added by Marc Camargo on January 16, 2008 at 2:06 pm PST.

Other species

Axel you used to have some other ice cream bean species?. The one you have a picture of is the same one avaliable in Australia. But high in the mountains in Mexico where it's cold I saw them with smooth green pods, larger pods than those fury ones have. They were fairly common growing in peoples yards and also being sold in the street

The above followup was added by Jason on January 17, 2008 at 6:24 pm PST.

Inga Feuiei

Jason, the pods on mine become smooth after a while. Also, the commonly grown inga in California has smooth pods too.

I think it's the same species as from Mexico.

The above followup was added by Axel on January 18, 2008 at 1:48 pm PST.

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