Stumbling Upon the Money Tree

Pachira Aquatica

Encountering Pachira Aquatica, Shaving Bush Tree(?)

Giggling when I came across this bonsai tag at California Home & Garden in Wellington, NZ, and took a photo so I could look up what on earth a “shaving bush” tree really was. Turns out the illustrious Pachira aquatica has traveled widely, under many names. The genus name, Pachira, is derived from a language spoken in Guyana, the species is Latin for “aquatic.” It’s also known as the Guiana or Guyana chestnut, saba nut, Bombacaceae,  Malabar chestnut, Munguba and provision tree.

It’s here in my 中文 Zhōngwén Chinese journal because Pachira Aquatica is also 馬拉巴栗 Mǎlābā lì “Malabar chestnut” a.k.a. The Money Tree 發財樹 fācái shù . This plant gets recommended by 风水 fēng shuǐ practitioners to attract wealth and prosperity, due to the arrangement of five large green leaves on each branch symbolizing the  五行 wǔxíng five classical elements: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth.

I think they meant to label this “Shaving Brush Tree,” because the gorgeous flowers do somewhat resemble a glamorous shaving brush tucked inside an exploding banana peel:


Shaving Brush Tree flower

Pacifica aquatica Shaving Brush Tree flower in Sao Paolo, Brazil, by Mauroguanadi

Wishing everyone good luck and prosperity as I watch Obama’s address to joint session of U.S. Congress while writing this. If you’d like your own good luck money tree in the U.S., there are lovely braided bonsai versions from Windowbox and Red Envelope.

Bonus:For another interpretation “money tree“, check out Fiona Hall’s art installation: “When My Boat Comes In.” 


2 Responses to “Stumbling Upon the Money Tree”

  1. 1 LamExhalialag January 2, 2010 at 7:36 am

    Many of folks write about this topic but you wrote down really true words!

  2. 2 anthromes February 26, 2010 at 10:59 am

    I would imagine the P. aquatica was a mis-label. The “money tree” is typically Bombacopsis (Pachira) Glabra, a close relative of P. aquatica, commonly confused.

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