Adenanthera pavonina

Red bead tree


This tree bring us shade, beads, ornament and food                                                                              


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Red Sandalwood is a big beautiful, fast growing, medium to large-sized tree ranges from 18 - 45 feet in height, with pinnately compound leaves and dense racemes of fragrant, light-yellow blossoms and beautiful red seeds. 

The slender flattened pods become twisted as they split open at maturity to release up to 12 brilliant red, lens-shaped, extremely hard seeds. 

The ripened pods stay on the tree for long periods and may persist until the following spring.  

They flowering and fruiting almost throughout the year, though for short intervals. Inflorescence appears at the apex of the small fruit. Seeds are eaten and dispersed by birds. 


The bead tree is nitrogen-fixing, bearing VA mycorrhiza on the roots.









Culture and care

He likes full sun (not for the early years) and neutral to slightly acid soils. 

He can survive at 32°F, but it is preferable to protect him from the cold.

He likes water and to be cut branches before winter.


The seed must be scarified or/and soaked in hot water to germinate, otherwise germination is erratic and may take up to 12 months. 

Untreated seeds can be stored up to 18 months without losing viability, 15% germination following 8 years open storage at room temperature. 


Manual scarification, immersing the seeds in boiling water for one minute, or treatment with sulphuric acid has shown to significantly increase germination percentage, or 72h in warm water, and put in a peat 50%, perlite or sand 50%. 


Germination occurs within 1-8 weeks at 23°C.





- Médicinal use






Raw seeds are toxic


- Ornemental use


Very nice tree. Can be planted as a single plant or in a edge.


- Alimentary use




In Oceania, the seeds are roasted, shelled, then mixed with rice (Soya taste)


- Other uses


Seeds are use in handcrafting to make beads, necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

The wood, heavy and red, is use to make cabinet making and wood furnitures in remplacement of Santal wood. Exposed to light, the wood slowly turns to purplish red. It is also used for shipbuilding and firewood. 

In tropical Asia, they are planted in coffee, cloves and rubber plantations to provide shade and regenerate the soil thanks to its nitrogen-fixing properties.


Ground seeds can produce an oil that has been used as an industrial lubricant.




Adenanthera comes from the Greek «adenos», gland and «anthera», anther. This means that the flower has glandular anthers.


Pavonina, in Latin, means peacock, probably in relation to the majestic port of the tree or would derive from poppy, the color of the seeds reminiscent of the poppy.




In India, wood sap is used to make a red dye that is used for body dyes. It is often placed in front of temples.


In India, miniature boneheads are made with carved elephants on the inside that are offered at the birth of children.



They are exchanged by Chinese lovers in the form of necklaces or bracelets.




Because of their remarkable uniformity in size and weight (about 0.26 g), the seeds were used by Asian goldsmiths to weigh precious metals. 4 seeds are about 1 g.