Parkia speciosa Hassk.

Etymology Genus After Mungo Park, a Scottish explorer of Africa
Species Handsome or showy
Family Fabaceae
Synonyms Inga pyriformis Jungh., Mimosa pedunculata Hunter
Common Names Petai, Stink Bean, Smelly Bean
Status Native: Vulnerable
Form Tree
Native Distribution Indochina, Malesia


Parkia speciosa is a common tree species in our Central Catchment Nature Reserves. There aren't many big trees there with bipinnate leaves, so it shouldn't be hard to differentiate. The leaflets are numerous on each stalk and rectangular in shape. Seeing the inflorescence head shaped like a microphone is a definite diagnostic.

Interesting Facts:

The Petai is well known for its edible fruits which is a delicacy for Malays (Corner, 1997). The pods is said to taste of garlic and hence, have a lingering odour after eating it.

A Petai tree emerging from the canopy at the fringe of MacRitchie Reservoir.

The peculiar inflorescence.

Saplings are very abundant along the MacRitchie, Petai Trail.

Bipinnate leaves contain numerous rectangular leaflets.

The Smelly Beans sold in a market in Sarawak.


Corner EJH. (1997) Wayside Trees of Malaya. Volume 1. 4th edition. The Malaysian Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. 476 pp.

Author: Jake
Posted: 2013-07-01 / Modified: 2017-12-25