Is Acacia / Rain Tree Fruit Edible?

Is acacia fruit / pod edible? That is my question when I was a child. I came up with the idea when I saw my father’s cow eating fallen fruit pods. I picked up a pod and broke it. The pulp has the appearance of honey and it smells like honey or sugar.

the elongated acacia fruit

I have no guts to have a taste. It feared that it might contain some toxic materials. On the other, the cow can eat it safely. Father’s cow could have been dead otherwise.

I asked mother and father if it could be eaten. Their answer is an straight no.

To avoid confusion, I am talking about the Acacia tree with the Scientific name of Samanea saman and a common English name of rain tree. Literature stated that rain tree was coined from the idea – the pinnate leaves are drooping on rain. I observed the leaves are also drooping on sunset.

The tree is domed shape especially in open field. It is covered with pinkish red color during flower season. Pods are falling to ground at peak maturity.  Its a feast for cows and other ruminants.

Literature stated the fruit pulp is sweet with an astringent taste and can be eaten. This answers my previous question, “Is acacia fruit can edible?”.

I was going to my father’s farm to get some young coconut (buko). I passed by a nearby acacia tree. The ripe pods are all over the ground. I picked for a taste test.

The fruit taste is sweet but eating it is not enjoyable due to following reasons:

1) It is sweet but slightly bitter. I am having a hard time eating bitter commodities.
2) The pulp is too little. Might not also be good for food processing purposes.
3) The fruit outer covering is brittle and annoying. It clings in between teeth. Separating pulp from annoying brittle skin is very hard.
4) After few seconds, it seems like a few little ants are biting my tongue. There is no much pain but the feeling is rather uncomfortable.

cross section acacia fruit

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

3 Replies to “Is Acacia / Rain Tree Fruit Edible?”

  1. Where I live there are many acacia trees ranging in species– some with tiny pods, and some that are as large as the ones in your pictures. I’ve noticed that many animals eat them, especially squirrels. But they seem to only eat them when they are green. So I asked my grandpa who studies plants if they are edible, and he said yes. So I took a ripe pod as you did and there was not much to it. But the green pods are different– the outside covering is astringent and not edible, but the seeds inside were surprisingly good. They look and taste similar to edamame, and once they are ripe, they turn hard and are no longer good. So try eating a green one! 🙂

  2. I also have the same observation with you about acacia pods.I did attempt also opening ripe fruit and smelled it and observed the pulp, yes its only little and its hard to separate from its covering.I rub its pulp to my hand and it leave an oily feeling .My mind questioned ” can I separate certain amount of oil from it.

  3. when I was 11 years old, i used to take care of my two sister (ages 1 and half and 2 and half) after school.
    I used to bring them to a playground near our house where there were many acacia trees.
    One time, i saw my 1 and half-year old sister sucking on an acacia fruit.
    I tried to take it away from her but she cried.
    I tried to taste it and it was sweet and hint of bitterness..just like a semi-burnt caramelized sugar.
    After that, every time i take her to that place, she always look for acacia pods and i just let her eat. haha

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