The espavel (wild cashew), commonly known in Costa Rica, is a native tree that prefers to grow in areas close to the margins of the rivers of the tropical rainforest. It is mainly distributed throughout the Pacific slope and the central valley from 0 to 1000 meter above sea level.
Espavel usually reach upto 40 m in height and a diameter at breast height (DBH) of more than 1 meter, indicates that the tree is around 100 years old, since it grows
only 1 centimeter per year. Many Wild Cashew trees in the Karen Mogensen
Reserve are between 200 and 500 years old. They are majestic and beautiful!
Seed and fruit of the espavel. Photograph taken from the Internet.
The leaves of the espavel are large and are grouped at the end of the branches. They flower from January to May and bear fruit between February and July.
Its fruit is an exposednut with a kidney shape, its peduncle is edible and is known locally as "cachito", due to its "c" shape. It has a sweet taste and is much appreciated by birds and bats, and is also sometimes eaten by humans.
Its seeds are mainly dispersed by bats and usually start to growafter the first rains.
Seedling of the espavel. Photograph taken from the Internet.
The Costa Rican writer, Carlos Salazar Herrera, in his short story"El Bongo" mentions that the trunk of the Espavel is the base wood from which sailing boats were built to transport goods in the Gulf of
“A bongo is a small sailing boat, which can hold only a fewpeople. The hull is made from a single piece, hewn blow by blow, by force of axe and adze, from a large trunk of Espavel”.
Within the Karen Mogensen Reserve, you can observe other treessuch as Ron Ron (Astronium graveolens), Ojoche (Brosimum alicastrum), Cocobolo (Dalbergia retusa), Quina (Ocotea veraguencis), Cachimbo (Platymiscium curuense), Níspero de bosque (Manilkara zapota), Guayabon (Terminalia oblonga), Ceiba (Ceiba pentandra), Tempisque (Sideroxyloncapiri), Guapinol (Hymanaea courbaril) Guanacaste (Enterolobium cyclocarpum), Lorito (Cojoba arborea), Panamá (Sterculia apetala), MonkeyGuava (Posoqueria latifolia) among many other species of flora.
The Ceiba. Picture taken from the Internet