Botanical Description

Adenanthera pavonina (L.) (family Leguminosae, subfamily Mimosoideae) is a medium to large-sized deciduous tree, 6—15 m tall. Leaves are bipinnate, with two to six opposite pairs of pinnae. Flowers are small, creamy yellow, and fragrant. The curved pods contain the seeds, which are exposed when these pods curl back. Ripened pods remain on the tree for long periods. The seeds are hard, dark or bright red, about 8 mm wide, and there are 10—12 per pod (Figure 46.1).

The tree grows on a variety of soils in moist and seasonally moist tropical climates, preferring neutral to slightly acidic soils. Initial seedling growth is slow, but rapid height and diameter increments occur from the second year onward. The tree is susceptible to breakage in high winds, with the majority of damage occurring in the crown. This species is common throughout the lowland tropics up to 300—400 m.


Adenanthera pavonina with the red seeds. Photograph by Pratheep (

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