Guama – A sweet pod with a fun seed

Guama (Inga feuilleei) is a rather peculiar “fruit” that can sometimes be found on carts around Bogotá. I had never tried it but always heard about it because of a Colombian saying that goes, “salió como pepa de guama“.

The seeds are a lot like slippery watermelon seeds but a lot bigger, and when you squeeze them between your fingers they shoot out like little erratic projectiles. So the saying, “como pepa de guama” (like a guama seed), is used when someone or something leaves very quickly – a lot like a “bat out of hell”, is my approximation.

This “fruit” is actually not a fruit at all but a legume, like carob or tamarind, with large greenish brown pods that can reach the length of a person’s forearm. Other sources place it in a sub-category of “cotton fruit” along with guanabana and mangosteen, among others, which explains why it’s sometimes called the “ice cream pod” because of the sweet cotton-like flesh that surrounds the seeds.

Yes, it definitely feels like a moist cotton ball in your mouth, which is a little strange, but it has a mild sweetness that is rather pleasant. It probably won’t knock your socks off but it’s a nice little “fruit”.

The guama tree is native to Central and South America and people sometimes use it to make fruit juice, although I’ve never seen guama juice being sold anywhere in Colombia – or Bogotá, at least. What seems to be its main purpose is to provide shading for coffee and cacao plantations, while its abundant fruit provides some sustenance for families that live in the vicinity of the tree - or for curious people riding around ciclovía in the rain.

One pod costs $1,000 pesos (a little over 50 cents).

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6 Responses to Guama – A sweet pod with a fun seed

  1. Pingback: New Fruits « Ordinary & Beyond

  2. Eggton says:

    Wow, I love the photograph that you took down the split of the pod. Amazing! At first I thought it was a puffy sofa or something.

  3. MARIANA CONCHA says:

    Love love love guama a my friend!!! I used to make myself guama a seed earrings when I was little..:)

  4. Mark Cain says:

    The lowland/prairie guama pod is round, and the seeds are covered with much more cottony sweetness. I enjoy them much more than mountain region guamas. When in flower the guama trees bring a lot of humming birds.

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