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! 😉