Adenanthera pavonina is a fast-growing, medium-to-large sized deciduous tree, reaching heights of 6-15 m. Its spreading canopy is filled with feather-like foliage. Creamy yellow, fragrant flowers are borne in 12-15 cm long, narrow inflorescences at the end of each branch. Dark brown pods (15-22 cm long) each bear 8-12 scarlet-colored, showy seeds.
Leaves and cooked seeds are valuable sources of protein for many cultures. Seeds are used as beads and are also high in oil, which can be extracted. The bark is a source of red coloring for dye. A. pavonina leaves are an important fodder source, as is the wood for timber and fuelwood. Various medicinal products from the leaves, wood, and bark carry cultural significance throughout Asia. With a wide-spreading canopy, A. pavonina is commonly utilized for shade, serving as a nurse crop or shade tree for various agronomic and horticulture species production (e.g., coffee). A nitrogen-fixing legume, A. pavonina leaves enrich the soil as a green manure.
- Elevation – up to 400 m
- Rainfall – 2000-6000 mm
- Soil Types – pH 4.5-7.5; well-drained
- Temperature Range – 12-36°C
- Day Length Sensitivity – none
- Light – tolerates light shade to full sun
Seeds of A. pavonina contain a hard outer coating that requires scarification. Before planting, soak seeds in warm water for 12-24 hours. Trees have also been propagated by large cuttings. Spacing should be wide enough to accommodate extensive canopy spread.
Harvesting and Seed Production
A deciduous tree, A. pavonina loses its leaves briefly each year. Harvesting of leaves for food or fodder is done continuously, as needed, allowing enough biomass to remain for tree health. Seeds are ready for harvest once pods turn black. They do dehisce—split open—though seeds cling to seed pods.
Pests and Diseases
Sapstain (a fungal infection) and termites are common pests.
Cooking and Nutrition
Young leaves are eaten as any other leguminous leafy vegetable: raw, in stir-fry, boiled, etc. Seeds are usually boiled to remove toxicity and roasted. Seeds are rich in oil and high in protein.
Ecocrop. 1993-2007. Adenanthera pavonina. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, Italy. ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/dataSheet?id=318. Accessed 23 August 2019.
Orwa, C., A. Mutua, R. Kindt, R. Jamnadass, A. Simons. 2009. Agroforestree Database: a tree reference and selection guide version 4.0. http://old.worldagroforestry.org/treedb2/speciesprofile.php?Spid=144. Accessed 23 August 2019.
Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Adenanthera+pavonina. Accessed 23 August 2019