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Seed Descriptions

  • Acai Palm (euterpe oleracea)

    These seeds come from a species of palm tree whose fruit is in high demand for making a nutritious drink. The seeds are dyed various colors.

  • Betel-Nut Palm (areca catechu)

    Indigenous to Southeast Asia, the betel-nut palm now grows in tropical regions worldwide. The tree, which can reach 100 feet, produces yellowish-white flowers and an orange-colored fruit with a fibrous husk containing one nut. The areca nut, chewed with the betel leaf, is a mild intoxicant and slightly addictive. It is chewed throughout Asia, leaving regular users with red-stained teeth.

  • Bull Horn

    Our bull horns come from Colombian bulls, whose horns are collected, processed and polished to produce elegant, seashell-like patterns and colors.

  • Canna Lily (canna indica)

    Also known as Indian shot, these seeds are small, black, and heavy enough to sink in water. They resemble shotgun pellets and, in fact, are used in pop guns by children in India. Hence the name. The seeds come from a widely cultivated ornamental flower that grows two to five feet tall. The flowers, which vary in color, are native to the Caribbean and the tropical areas of the Americas.

  • Cerebrito (flacourtiacea family)

    Spanish for “little brain,” the cerebrito seeds retain some of their coats, leaving irregular black, brain-like lines on their surface.

  • Chinaberry (melia azedarach)

    These seeds come from a deciduous tree in the mahogany family that is native to Pakistan, India, Southeast Asia and Australia. The tree grows small, fragrant lilac-colored flowers in clusters.

  • Chirilla (canna indica)

    Chirilla is a processed version of the canna lilly seed. Its hard black shell is removed by tumbling it, revealing a white interior. It is then dyed in a variety of colors.

  • Chocho Rojo (ormosia cruenta)

    A relative of the huayuro seed, the chocho rojo is naturally red in color. It comes from a species of legume found in Panama and tropical regions of South America and is said to protect the wearer from negativity.

  • Coral Bean (eryhrina sandwicensis)

    The coral bean seed comes from a flowering shrub native to the southeastern USA and northeastern Mexico. The bright red seeds attract hummingbirds. Seed extracts are used as an external rub for rheumatic disorders.

  • Davidi

    We don’t know the source of this mysterious, pinto bean-like seed commonly called “Davidi.” Help us identify it botanically.

  • Elephant’s Ear (enterolobium cyclocarpum)

    Native to Central and northern South America, elephant’s ear seeds come from a huge deciduous tree often grown to shade coffee plants and cattle. The tree produces large leaves, white flowers and nutritious pods used to feed stock. The large seed pods are dark brown, circular and flat, resembling an “elephant’s ear.” The seeds themselves are dark brown marked with an oval eye.

  • Huayuro (ormosia monosperma)

    Also known as chochos, the huayuro seed comes from a tree common throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. This beautiful red seed has a distinctive black spot covering about a third of its surface. The seeds are often given to newlyweds to wish them happiness, prosperity and fertility. In Peru, children wear them to guard against witchcraft. They are poisonous if eaten.

  • Huevo de Cordoniz

    In Spanish, the name of this seed means “quail’s egg.” It appears to be some kind of bean but we’re baffled as to its source and botanical identification. Help us identify it.

  • Job's Tears (coix lacryma jobi)

    Although they look like seeds, Job’s Tears are hard-shelled grains with naturals groove on one end that make them ideal for jewelry making. The tropical grass which grows them is native to East Asia. In Korea, Vietnam and China, the grain is used to make a distilled liquor as well as tea, cereal and soup.

  • Nickernut (caesalpinia bonduc)

    These seeds come from a shrub native to Southeast Asia but now common throughout the tropics. The flat, oblong, spiny covered pods of the shrub produce two or three light-gray seeds, each about a half inch in diameter. Nickernuts are also known as “fevernuts” because their bitter embroyo is used to treat fevers and dysentery. The Aztecs believed the seeds had powerful protective powers and wore them to ward off the “evil eye.”

  • Red Sandalwood (adenanthera pavonina)

    These bright scarlet seeds come from hard, slender trees with wide, spreading branches and pale gray bark. The tree blooms with small, yellow, clustered flowers and grows hanging seed pods. Originally native to India, red sandalwood seeds were once used to weigh gold. In China, lovers exchange red sandalwood necklaces as an expression of their love.

  • Royal poinciana (delonix regia)

    These seeds come from a tree also know as the “Flamboyant” because of its vivid red, orange and yellow flowers. Native to Madagascar, the Royal Poinciana is now grown in tropical regions worldwide for its shade as well as its ornamental flowers. Its pods are six to 14 inches long and contain numerous oblong seeds.

  • San Jeado Palm

    This small, round, palm seed tree is another one for which we are seeking botanical information.

  • Sandbox Tree (hura creptinas)

    Native to the American tropics, these curly seeds comes from a spiny, dark evergreen tree with smooth brown bark. The tree, which can grow up to 200 feet, is also known as the “dynamite tree” because of the explosive sound its ripe fruit makes when it splits into segments. The half moon shape of the seeds make lovely earrings.

  • Sea Heart (entada gigas)

    Sea heart seeds come from the longest bean pod on earth. The pods, which can reach six feet, grow on a woody vine native to Latin America. Each pod produces 10 to 15 reddish-brown seeds, three to four inches wide. The seeds have a hollow cavity that makes them float and, as a result, are found on beaches around the world

  • Sea Purse (dioclea reflexa)

    Also known as seabeans, sea purse seeds grow on woody vines throughout the subtropics. Like sea heart seeds, they also end up being washed ashore by ocean currents. Some rare specimens are much prized by collectors.

  • Soapberry (sapindus saponaria)

    These black, round seeds about a half-inch wide come from the fruit of a tall, tropical tree native to the Americas. The mashed soapberry fruit makes water very sudsy and acts as a natural cleanser. South American traders once used soapberries to wash woolens and silks to produce a brighter, fresher look.

  • Tagua (phytelephas aequatorialis)

    The brown, spiny fruit of this Latin American palm tree each contain four seeds called “taguas.” The immature seeds have a sweet edible pulp. The mature seeds harden and can be polished and carved like ivory. The taguas are commonly used to make buttons, chess pieces, and jewelry.

  • Taparo (attalea cuatrecasana)

    Native to the Pacific rainforest of Colombia, these large brown seeds come from a short palm tree that produces the largest seeds in the palm family other than the coconut.

  • Walnut (junglas nigra)

    Walnut seeds, with 21 identified species, grow on deciduous trees ranging from 30 to 130 feet throughout the world. The Latin name, “juglans,” derives from Jupiter glans, “Jupiter’s acorn,” a nut fit for a god.

  • West Indian Locust Tree (hymenaea courbaril)

    These hard, reddish-brown seeds come from locust trees in Latin America. The unpleasant odor of the edible pulp inside the tree’s seed pods has also given this seed the name “Old Man’s Toe.” The hardwood of the tree itself is used for furniture, flooring and decorative purposes.

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