Adenanthera pavonina L.

Etymology Genus Acorn (Aden) anthers (anthera), referring to the shape of the anthers
Species Peacock; probably referring to the attractive seeds
Family Fabaceae
Synonyms Adenanthera gersenii Scheff., Corallaria parvifolia Rumph.
Common Names Saga Tree, Love Seeds
Status Exotic: Naturalised
Form Tree
Native Distribution China, India, Bangladesh, Indochina, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Guinea, Australia, Solomon Islands


Adenanthera pavonina is most famous and diagnostic for its shiny, hard red seeds. Without this key, it is still easy to recognise from its bipinnate leaves, with leaflets that are oval and relatively large (about 4 x 2cm) in comparison with other common bipinnate legume trees.

Interesting Facts:

The Saga Tree is once commonly cultivated during the 1970s and 1980s (Rao & Wee, 1989). However, few remain in our urban landscape now as it is vulnerable to strong winds and algae growth (NParks, 2009). It is still common sight in secondary forests though.

The iconic hard red seeds have been collected by boys (myself included, but probably not of the new generation) and presented to the girls they fancy. Going further back in time, they are used as units of weight for gold and silver in India and Sri Lanka (Rao & Wee, 1989). In fact, the word 'Saga' is an Arabic word for goldsmith (Corner, 1997).

Form of the Saga Tree in Bidadari Cemetery.

Bipinnate leaves, the size and shape of the leaflets are diagnoistic.

Yellow inflorescence (right).


The dehisced fruit with exposed seeds.

The iconic red seeds.


Corner EJH. (1997) Wayside Trees of Malaya. Volume 1. 4th edition. The Malaysian Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. 476 pp.
Rao AN & WC Wee (1989) Singapore Trees. Singapore Institute of Biology, Singapore. 357 pp.
NParks. (2009) Trees of Our Garden City: A Guide to the Common Trees of Singapore. 2nd Edition. National Parks Board, Singapore. 382 pp.

Author: Jake
Posted: 2012-11-22 / Modified: 2017-12-25