Sterculia (Sterculia foetida)
Sterculias, also known as jangli badam, bastard poon trees, hazel sterculia, and wild almond trees, are tall, straight trees, rising in some instances to 30 meters (90 feet). Branches are arranged in a circular or spiral pattern and spread horizontally. Their leaves are crowded at the end of the branches and are either undivided or with five wide lobes. The bark is grayish-brown and smooth or slightly scaled. Their large flowers are red or purple. The fruit of all sterculias is similar in aspect, with a red or brown, segmented seedpod containing many edible black or brown, coarsely textured, oblong-shaped seeds. Flowers and leaves typically produce an unpleasant odor.
Sterculias timber is grayish-white and soft making it easy to carve and shape. Exposed to the weather, the timber is perishable making it useful only for interior work.
Where to Find: There are over 100 species of sterculias distributed through all warm or tropical climates. They are mainly forest trees.
Edible Parts: The large, red pods produce a number of edible seeds. The seeds of all sterculias are edible and have a pleasant taste similar to cocoa. You can eat them like nuts, either raw or roasted.
Note: Avoid eating large quantities. Do not eat more than three seeds. The seeds may have a laxative effect. In addition, in some species, the seeds can swell several times their size when soaked in water.
Other Uses: The Gum karaya is extracted from the plant and used as a laxative, thickener in foods, and as a denture or book-binding adhesive.