December 12, 2006

Red seeds that look like beads

Colour possesses me. I don’t have to pursue it. It will possess me always, I know it. Color and I are one. – Paul Klee

Me too...I am attracted by colour, wherever I see it. And where better than in nature? Just look at these seeds...aren't they brilliant?

This one's called Abrus (Abrus precatorius). It has many other names: Jequirity, Crab’s Eye, Rosary Pea, etc. Some Indian names for Abrus are: Guriginja (Telugu), Kunni (Malayalam), Coondrimany (Tamil), Galaganji (Kannada), Ghungchi (Hindi), Kunch (Bengali), Gunj (Marathi).

I have seen jewellers using these attractive seeds to weigh gold and silver. Each seed has a remarkably uniform weight of 1/10th of a gram. The seed is highly poisonous. They look like ladybugs and are used in jewellery.
I spotted this tree (photo above right) in KBR Park, Banjara Hills (I had never seen one before). This is what it looks like in February.

This splash of red is from the Coral bean seeds from the Coral bean tree (right), also called red sandalwood, sagaseed tree, red-bead tree, Raktakambal in Hindi (Adenanthera pavonina).

This one’s a family favourite. We collect these red seeds when we go for walks to Indira Park nearby. The red dots on brown earth make a very pretty sight. Children love collecting them.

These seeds too are toxic, and can only germinate if they are scarified or boiled for one minute. Like Abrus, these seeds were also used to weigh gold. Four seeds make up about one gram. In fact the name "saga" is apparently traced to the Arabic term for "goldsmith".

If anyone knows what this tree/seed is called in other Indian languages, please tell me...I am interested.

Photos from Sadhana's Kodak

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