59. Peronías, jumbie-bead
Adenanthera pavonina L.*
This introduced tree, locally naturalized, is identified by: (1) the large twice pinnate (bipinnate) leaves 1-2 feet or more in length, composed of numerous oblong thin leaflets rounded at both ends and with a tiny point at apex; (2) the erect narrow flower clusters 4-7 inches long, containing numerous crowded, small, pale yellow flowers ¼ inch across; and (3) the shiny scarlet lens-shaped seeds 3/8 inch in diameter and nearly ¼ inch thick, borne in pods 6-10 inches long.
A medium-sized deciduous tree to 40 feet high and 1½ feet in trunk diameter, with spreading crown. The brown bark is smoothish with many small fissures. Inner bark is light brown. Twigs are stout and green.
The main axis of the alternate leaves is green, tinged with brown, with 2-5 pairs of lateral axes (pinnae), and the latter each bearing 11-21 leaflets. The leaflets also are alternate on short stalks less than 1/8 inch long and with blades ¾-1¾ inches long and 3/8 - 7/8 inch broad, edges not toothed, minutely and very inconspicuously hairy on both sides, dull green on upper surface, and blue green beneath.
Flower clusters (racemes) are lateral and terminal, slender and unbranched with many small flowers on stalks about 1/8 inch long. The tiny light green calyx 1/16 inch long is bell-shaped, 5-toothed; the 5 spreading, narrow, pointed, petals 1/8 inch long; 10 stamens a little longer than petals, pale yellow with brown anthers; and pistil 3/16 inch long with light green 1-celled ovary and slender style.
The dark brown pods are ½-¾ inch broad, curved, somewhat fleshy, flattened between seeds, splitting into 2 parts and twisting upon opening. The several showy seeds (about 1,600 to a pound) adhere to the opened pods. Flowering usually from late summer to winter (August to January), the fruit maturing in fall and winter and remaining attached for some time.
The sapwood is light brown and hard. Heartwood is reddish. The wood is hard, heavy (specific gravity 0.6-0.8), strong, and durable. It is used as roundwood or fuel. Elsewhere the wood has been employed in construction and cabinetwork and is the source of a red dye.
This is a shade tree and ornamental in Puerto Rico. In Malaya grown as a shade tree for plantation crops. The shiny bright colored seeds after softening in boiling water serve as beads in necklaces and novelties.
Naturalized in the coastal and moist limestone regions of Puerto Rico. Also in St. Thomas, St. John, and Tortola.
PUBLIC FORESTS. - Cambalache, Guajataca, Mancao, Río Abajo, Vega.
RANGE. - Native of tropical Asia, first described from India. Planted and naturalized in other tropical regions including West Indies from Cuba and Jamaica to Trinidad and Tobago. Grown in southern Florida and California. Cultivated in Dutch West Indies and South America from Venezuela to Brazil but very rare in Central America.
OTHER COMMON NAMES - coralitos, coral, mato colorado, palo de mato, peronías chatas (Puerto Rico); Circassian-bean, coquelicot (Virgin Islands); coralitos, peonía (Dominican Republic); coralín, coral, coralillo (Cuba); sandal beadtree, red sandalwood, Circassian-bean, Circassian-seed (United States); red sandalwood, Circassian-seed (Jamaica, Trinidad); l'église (Grenadines); jumbie-bead (Trinidad); buckbead (British Guiana); réglisse, arbre à réglisse, arbre à graines réglisse, corail végétal (Guadeloupe); pau tento, tento carolina (Brazil).