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Adenanthera pavonina - L.

Common Name Red Sandalwood, Coral Tree
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The raw seeds are poisonous[303 ].
Habitats Deciduous forests at low elevations in both primary and secondary formations, sometimes in calcareous soils[200 , 418 ]. Locally common in many Pacific Islands along roadsides, dry open forest and disturbed areas from sea-level to lower montane[311 ].
Range E. Asia - China, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia, Solomon Isles.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Adenanthera pavonina Red Sandalwood, Coral Tree

Adenanthera pavonina Red Sandalwood, Coral Tree


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Adenanthera pavonina, the Red Sandalwood or Coral Tree is cultivated for forage, as an ornamental garden plant or urban tree. It is a non-climbing species of leguminous tree useful for nitrogen fixation. It has many uses including food and drink, traditional medicine, timber, an ornamental garden plant/urban tree and as a shade tree. It has an attractive, spreading canopy. It flowers early spring to late summer fruiting in mid summer to autumn.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Adenanthera pavonina is a deciduous Tree growing to 18 m (59ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10 and is frost tender. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant is not wind tolerant.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Adenanthera gersenii Scheff. Adenanthera polita Miq. Corallaria parvifolia Rumph.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Seed
Edible Uses:

Edible parts: Seeds, Leaves, Vegetable. A Famine food. A minor edible leafy vegetable. Seed - raw or cooked[301 ]. They can be roasted, shelled and then eaten with rice[301 , 307 ]. The seeds are easily digested and are enjoyed by children and adults alike[303 ].The bright red seeds taste like soya beans and contain 25% oil plus 39% protein[301 ]. The seed may require boiling to neutralize toxicity[303 , 418 ]. Young leaves - cooked and used as a vegetable[301 , 303 , 418 ]. The flowers are also eaten.

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antibacterial  Antidiarrhoeal  Antiinflammatory  Dysentery  Leprosy

The plant is antibacterial and haemaglutinin[311 ]. A decoction of the leaves is used in the treatment of rheumatism and gout[46 , 307 ]. The bark is used to treat leprosy[311 ]. A decoction of the bark and leaves is used to treat dysentery, diarrhoea and tonsillitis[303 ]. The wood is used as a tonic[46 ]. The pulverized wood, mixed with water, is taken orally for treating migraines and headaches[303 ]. In vitro studies suggest Adenanthera pavonina leaf extract has antibacterial activity against the intestinal pathogen Campylobacter jejuni. Also, high doses of seed extract have an anti-inflammatory effect in studies in rats and mice.

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Charcoal  Dye  Fibre  Fodder  Green manure  Hair  Pioneer  Shelterbelt  Soap  Wood

Planted as a shade and ornamental tree. Agroforestry Uses: The tree is a natural pioneer. With its fast rate of growth and ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, it can be used for land reclamation and to re-establish woodland[ 307 , 418 , K ]. The spreading crown of light, feathery foliage offers attractive shade and the tree is often planted for shade in coffee, clove and rubber plantations[ 303 ]. It is also planted along field borders as part of a windbreak[ 303 , 418 ]. The small leaves break down easily, making the species a good green manure303]. It is compatible with most tropical field and tree crops, making it suitable to use in integrated production systems. It is inter-planted among field and tree crops such as spices, coffee and coconuts[ 303 ]. It is often grown as a shade tree for coffee and nutmeg[ 200 ]. Other Uses The bark is rich in saponins and can be used as a soap for washing clothes etc[ 46 , 200 , 307 ]. Also used as a hair shampoo[ 46 ]. The plant is a source of dyestuffs[ 200 ]. A red dye is obtained from the shredded bark[ 307 ]. The dye has been used for dyeing clothes, and is used by the Hindus of India for the sacred mark placed on the forehead[ 303 , 459 ]. The red, glossy seeds are used as toys and for beads in necklaces and other ornaments[ 46 , 200 , 303 ]. They were formerly used to weigh gold, silver and diamonds, because they have a narrow range in weight[ 303 ]. Goldsmiths use the seeds in soldering[ 46 ]. The heartwood is bright yellow when fresh, turning red upon exposure to the air; it is sharply demarcated from the light grey sapwood, which can be up to 5 cm wide[ 303 ]. The wood is heavy, hard, strong, close-grained and durable[ 46 , 307 ]. It can be easy or somewhat difficult to work, easy to plane and it takes a high finish[ 303 ]. The heartwood is resistant to dry wood termites[ 303 ]. A valued timber in many countries, being used for cabinet making, construction, flooring, paving blocks, vehicle bodies and fine art[ 307 , 418 ]. Esteemed in the Pacific Islands for fuel wood, the wood burns readily, producing significant heat, and is used in both above- and below-ground ovens[ 303 ]. The wood yields very good charcoal[ 303 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Coppice  Food Forest  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Alley crop  Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Beans Toxic Raw  Fodder: Pod  Industrial Crop: Fiber  Management: Coppice  Management: Standard  Regional Crop  Staple Crop: Protein-oil

A plant of the humid, lowland tropics and subtropics, where it is found at elevations up to 400 metres[303 , 418 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 28°c, but can tolerate 12 - 36°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 3,000 - 5,000mm, but tolerates 2,000 - 6,000mm[418 ]. Prefers a sunny position, tolerating light shade[418 ]. Succeeds in any moderately fertile, moisture-retentive soil[200 ]. It is found in the wild on a variety of soils, from deep, well-drained to shallow and rocky[418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 7, tolerating 4.5 - 7.5[418 ]. Established plants are drought tolerant[307 ]. Requires a position sheltered from high winds[303 ]. Plants can become invasive in lowland regions[307 ]. Growth is initially slow but increases rapidly after the first year, during which average annual growth rates of 23 - 26mm in diameter and 200 - 230cm in height can be attained[303 ]. Trees planted 1 x 2 metres apart for windbreaks and at 2 x 2 metres in plantations can be thinned in 3 - 5 years to provide fuel wood and construction materials[303 ]. For shade trees, spacing varies from 5 to 10 metres, depending on the companion crop and site[303 ]. Trees resprout easily, allowing for coppice management with good survival[303 ]. The tree is susceptible to breakage in high winds, with most of the damage occurring in the crown[303 , 418 ]. The seeds are fairly uniform and were traditionally used as weights by apothecaries and goldsmiths - each seed weighing nearly 4grains (0.25g)[307 ]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Alley crop  Integrates annual crops with rows of perennials.
  • Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Plants providing crop shade especially trees.
  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Beans Toxic Raw  Beans Toxic when Raw.
  • Fodder: Pod  Fodder plants with pods.
  • Industrial Crop: Fiber  Clothing, rugs, sheets, blankets etc. Currently, almost none of our fiber are produced from perennial crops but could be!
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.
  • Staple Crop: Protein-oil  (16+ percent protein, 16+ percent oil). Annuals include soybeans, peanuts, sunflower seeds. Perennials include seeds, beans, nuts, and fruits such as almond, Brazil nut, pistachio, walnut, hazel, and safou.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - the seedcoat is extremely hard and requires scarification, otherwise germination may take 12 months or more[303 ]. This is easiest to carry out by pre-soaking the seed for 12- 24 hours in warm water[K ]. Treated seed can give 100% germination in as little as 1 - 4 days, though 10 days is more usual[303 ]. The seed can be sown in situ, in nursery beds or in containers[200 , 303 ]. Young seedlings attain a height of 8 - 30 cm in approximately 3 months. Nodal cuttings in sand in a closed case[200 ]. The seed can be stored for several years in sealed containers at room temperature[303 ]. Propagation from large cuttings is reported to be successful in India[303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

It has a number of other common names: Arbre À Église, Acacia Coral, Anikundumani, Bandi guruvenda, Barbados pride, Barricarri, Bead Tree, Coral Pea, Corail Végétale, Circassian bean, Coral Wood, Coralitos, Curly Bean, Deleite, Delicia, Dilmawi, False wiliwili, Graine-réglisse, Jumbi-Bead, L'Église, Haihongdou, Hua 'ula'ula, Kongquedou, Kunchandana, Laihere, Lera, Lopa, Ma klam ton, Madatiya, Maklam-tah-chang, Manchadi, Manjadi, Manjetti, Peacock flower fence, Peronías, Peonía, Peonía Extranjera, Phak lam, Rakta kambal, Red Lucky Seed, Red Sandalwood, Red Bead Tree, Réglisse, Saga hutan, Saga, Thorligunj, xiang si dou (mutual love bean).

TEMPERATE ASIA: China (south). TROPICAL ASIA: Bangladesh, India, Sikkim, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Goa, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Indochina, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, AUSTRALASIA: Australia, Queensland, Northern Territory,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

This plant can be weedy or invasive in Florida, USA.[1c] Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Pacific Islands including American Samoa, Hawaii, French Polynesia, Micronesia and Australia. [1d]

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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