Ice cream beans are legumes, just like the beans you grow in your vegetable garden. The pods are about a foot long and contain beans about the size of limas surrounded by a sweet, cottony pulp. The pulp has a flavor similar to vanilla ice cream, hence its name.
In Columbia, ice cream beans have many uses in folk medicine. Decoctions of the leaves and bark are thought to relieve diarrhea. They can be made into a lotion that is said to relieve arthritic joints. Root decoctions are believed to be effective in treating dysentery, especially when mixed with pomegranate rind.