Rediscovering the saga seed tree

The kids picked these up in the park when they spent some time at the sandpit in the morning.

Their collection of saga seeds reminded me of my own childhood collecting as many of the seeds as I could find to have enough for my mom to sew mini bean bags for the game of “five stones”.  🙂

DD asked to open up the pod.  So we did and found seeds in various stages of maturity.  My curiosity sufficiently piqued, I went to look up information on the Saga Seed Tree.

  • Saga 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 yellow flowers of the saga tree are said to smell vaguely like orange blossoms.
  • The tree bears fruit in the shape of curved hanging green pods that turn brown, coil up and split open as they ripen to reveal small bright red seeds.

  • The tree is native to India and southern China, but is now found throughout the tropics.
  • Scientific name: Adenanthera pavonina

Uses as food: The young leaves can be cooked and eaten. The leaves were also used to supplement animal fodder, or mulched to fertilise crops. The seeds were roasted and eaten in Melanesia and Polynesia and the people there called it the “food tree”. 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.

Other uses: These attractive seeds have been used as beads in jewellery, leis and rosaries. They were also used in ancient India for weighing gold. The seeds are curiously similar in weight. Four seeds make up about one gramme. In fact the name “saga” is traced to the Arabic term for “goldsmith”. In India, it is believed that a person may have as many wishes as elephants found in a saga seed. The ground seeds can produce an oil which was used as an industrial lubricant.

Role in the habitat:  The Saga Seed Tree is believed to be able to fix nitrogen and thus help rejuvenate soils.

Just imagine, all of that learnt in a morning! 😉

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13 responses to “Rediscovering the saga seed tree”

  1. Angela says :

    Hi, I’m actually looking for saga seeds. Is it ok to tell me where your children found them? Thanks!

  2. maisy says :

    In Singapore I, bought 100 saga seeds from a shop!!!

    • iwonderbee says :

      Hi Maisy,
      Oh my word! I did not know they sell saga seeds – which shop was that and did you buy it for cooking or craft purposes? 🙂

  3. maisy says :

    when are saga seeds in season???

    • iwonderbee says :

      Hi Maisy,

      An interesting question! I must admit I have not really ever checked or thought about that. From my perspective, they seem to be in season all year round from the looks of it. I remember collecting many many of those little seeds over a period of some time, for my mother to sew little beanbags for the game of five stones.

  4. maisy says :

    are saga seeds for cooking and eating?

    • iwonderbee says :

      Hi Maisy,

      Not where I live but I know that some cultures do. You could probably research it further on the internet. I have never tried it myself 🙂

  5. Maisy says :

    What’s DD?

  6. maisy says :

    oh, actually I bought 300 saga seeds!!!!!

  7. Gopalino says :

    Hello, any idea which animal actually eats the saga seeds? Need the info for my science project and have not found the answer yet, tks.

  8. peter says :

    hello iwonderbee!! is it possible to state the location of where you found the saga seeds? really need them to do something nice for someone special haah

    • iwonderbee says :

      Hi Peter, I guess first of all you need to be in Singapore for me providing the location to make sense. There are about 2000 saga seed trees across the island of Singapore. Two good sources are the park at Bukit Chandu and the beach at East Coast Park. But if you need a lot in a very short time for a craft piece, it might be better to try sourcing through craft stores.

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