SagaSaga — Adenanthera pavonina (Barbados pride, Coral-wood, Coralwood, Peacock flower fence, Red beadtree, Red sandalwood tree, Red sandalwood, Sandalwood tree; syn. Adenanthera gersenii Scheff., Adenanthera polita Miq., Corallaria parvifolia Rumph.) is a timber tree. This plant is found in the wild in India, where in each language it has its own name (for example in Kerala it is known as Manchadi).

In adition, this plant is useful for nitrogen fixation, and it is often cultivated as a forage, a medicinal plant, and an ornamental plant which is used as a garden plant and urban tree. This tree is common within the tropics of the old world, particularly in the Maldives, principally upon the shores. The beauty of the seeds, their use as beads and for necklace, and their nourishing qualities, have combined to scatter the plant. the small, yellowish flower grows in dense drooping rat-tail flower heads, almost like catkins. The curved hanging pods, with a bulge opposite each see, split open each into two twisted halves to reveal the hard, scarlet sees that have been used since early times for wiighing gold. The young leaves can be cooked and eaten. the wood is extremely hard and used in boat-building and making furniture.

Saga seed Tree have hard red seeds and few can resist collecting the brightly coloured seeds usually littered under the tree. The seeds can only germinate if they are scratched (scarified), boiled for one minute, or dipped in sulphuric acid. This suggests that in nature, they must be eaten and go through the digestive system of an animal before germination. The tiny flowers are said to smell vaguely like orange blossoms.

The young leaves of saga can be cooked and eaten, but usually only during famine. The leaves were also used to supplement animal fodder, or mulched to fertilise crops. The seeds were eaten in Melanesia and Polynesia and the people there called it the “food tree”. The seeds were roasted before eating. Elsewhere they are boiled. In Java, they are roasted, shelled, then eaten with rice. They are said to taste like soy bean. The raw seeds are toxic and may cause intoxication. Studies show the cooked seed to be rich in oil and proteins and easily digested by both humans and livestock.

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