Timbo (Enterolobium contortisiliquum), also known as black ear (due to the characteristic shape of its fruit), pacará, timbaúba and guanacaste, is a tree from the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the South American subcontinent, found in Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay and Argentina.
It has adapted well to the shaky areas where it was introduced, but it is not invasive. Its beautiful flowers, wide crown that provides excellent shade, and respectable height - which reaches 30 meters - make it an ornamental tree highly appreciated for parks and avenues. It is very long-lived, with a known specimen in the province of Chaco, Argentina, more than 200 years old.
Timbo is given various medicinal uses, among which are: as an analgesic, antiseptic, healing, for the treatment and prevention of gonorrhea and dandruff, and as a hair tonic. With an infusion, prepared by boiling the bark and roots in water, swish is made to reduce inflammation and treat throat infections, and also as a decongestant, so it is a great ally for the problems derived from the cold. The preparation of an infusion, to drink as a tea, with the root is used as an antiparasitic. The leaves are boiled and applied as a compress on the wounds.
There is no research that aims to verify the effectiveness of timbo as a natural medicine, but its bark has a highly toxic compound (saponin), so much caution is suggested in its intake. It is recommended not to use it as a healing agent. It used to be used in fishing for poisoning, and the fruit causes abortions at different gestational stages in cattle; it is recommended to avoid its consumption during pregnancy.
Timbo as soap
In addition to its medicinal uses, an infusion is prepared with the bark or the fruits that is used as soap for skin and different textile fabrics, including wool. The same compound that makes it toxic for consumption makes it an excellent disinfectant. It is very simple to prepare: you must break the fruits over hot water and shake vigorously until the liquid becomes foamy. It can also be used as a shampoo. Its wood is light, and the Wichi people used it to build flexible, resistant canoes that can support the weight of up to 10 people. In Paraguay, it is highly appreciated for carving various crafts.
It needs space to grow, so it is necessary to plant in open ground. Its wide crown and relatively fast growth - something remarkable in a South American species - make it a very popular ornamental tree for parks and avenues. It reproduces by seed. To increase the chances of germination, it is necessary to subject them to a previous treatment. Break the fruit and bathe the seeds with almost boiling water; soak overnight or a whole day at room temperature. If they do not swell, make a small cross section and leave in water for another 12 hours. Plant in moist, nutrient-rich soil. Water abundantly every day. It will germinate in one to two weeks. It blooms in mid-spring-early summer and bears fruit in autumn. The fruits are collected directly from the tree when they turn brown.