Salicaceae (Willow family) hydrogen cyanide, which is highly toxic and possibly fatal to humans. To eliminate the poison, the seeds are crushed and boiled several times, or they are boiled, mixed with ash, wrapped in banana leaves, and buried in the soil to ferment for about 40 days. After this treatment the blackish-brown seeds are edible and used fresh or dried as a spice with a strong, nutty flavor in curries and soups as well as in chicken, pork, beef, and vegetable dishes. In Indonesia, the seeds are used as an ingredient in the traditional black beef soup called rawon. The spice gives the dish its characteristic taste and dark color.
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Raw fruits and seeds contain hydrogen cyanide, which is highly toxic and possibly fatal to humans.
Comments. The potent toxins of the tree were reportedly used by indigenous peoples of Borneo to poison dart tips for hunting and warfare.
Description. Large evergreen tree with spreading branches, 25-30 m (80-100 ft) tall. Alternate, bipinnate leaves with 14-18 pinnae with 31-38 linear leaflets. Small yellowish-white, bat-pollinated flowers are produced in pendent inflorescences. Fruits straight or twisted green pods, 40-55 cm (1622 in) long by 3-5 cm (1.2-2 in) wide, with 10-20 oval green seeds. Seeds of mature fruits are blackish-brown.
Origin and Distribution. The tree grows naturally in lowland rainforests of Malaysia, Singapore, and southern Thailand. In its natural habitat, the pods are often collected from wild trees. Commonly cultivated from Southeast Asia to India as a dooryard tree. Rarely grown elsewhere.
Food uses. Green beans, which emit a strong odor, are commonly used as a vegetable in Thai and Malay cuisine. Often used in strongly flavored, savory meat and shrimp dishes together with garlic, chili pepper, and onion. Ripe, blackish seeds are eaten boiled or roasted or dried for later use. Very young pods without developed seeds are chopped and used in stir-fries and curries. Young, tender leaves are also eaten as a vegetable.
Comments. The genus was named in honor of Mungo Park (1771-1806), a Scottish explorer who made two remarkable journeys to West Africa.
In Thailand, the fermented and cooked seedlings of P. timoriana, a closely related species native to tropical Asia, are eaten with namphrik, a chili-based hot sauce typical of Thai cuisine. The seeds of P. javanica are also eaten raw or roasted.
Description. Small tree with spreading branches and short, stiff spines, 10-12 m (33-39 ft) tall. Compound leaves 8-12 cm (3-5 in) long with 3 elliptical leaflets, each 3-6 cm (1.2-2.4 in) long with narrowly winged petioles. Greenish-white, bat-pollinated flowers are produced singly or in small clusters on the trunk and lower branches. Yellowish-green, elongated fruits 5-15 cm (2-6 in) long, with longitudinal ridges and smooth, waxy skin.
Origin and Distribution. A minor fruit native from Mexico south to Nicaragua in Central America, where it grows in tropical and subtropical regions with dry or humid climates. This now almost forgotten fruit tree was a common sight in Central America and Mexico in past centuries. Colonial chronicles mention the guachilote as a common dooryard tree in rural areas of Mexico, where the fruit formed an essential part of the diet.
Parmentiera aculeata (Kunth) Seem.
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