ELIANA BLAM ’22: Book VIII, Chapter 8 (On the Tree Called Guama and Its Fruit)

On the tree called guama and its fruit.

Translated by Eliana Blam

Guama [Inga edulis] is a large tree and one of the most common and abundant found in this island of Hispaniola. Its wood is one of the most used, usually to fuel the cauldrons where they boil sugar in the plantations. It makes for good fuel because there are large quantities of it and it is slow burning, of low glare and it is light and easy to carry on the head. Its fruit is like a carob bean, only wider and larger than those of Spain and almost the same flavor as those. The Indians used to eat them, and even Christians consumed them when it was necessary. I have seen this fruit many times and I have tried it, but it seems more suited to howler monkeys than men. This same fruit and tree can be found on other islands and in the mainland. Inside its vaynas or pods it produces some grains the size of hazelnuts, covered with sparse white flesh of good taste and an inner seed; the seed is not eaten because it is bitter.