An Eco-sustainable World
ArborealSpecies Plant

Parkia speciosa

Parkia speciosa

The bitter bean or twisted cluster bean, sator bean, stink bean, petai (Parkia speciosa Hassk. 1842) is an arboreal species belonging to the Fabaceae family.

Systematic –
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Subkingdom Tracheobionta,
Spermatophyta Superdivision,
Division Magnoliophyta,
Class Magnoliopsida,
Subclass Rosidae,
Fabales Order,
Family Mimosaceae,
Genus Parkia,
Species P. speciosa.
The terms are synonymous:
– Acacia gigantea Noronha;
– Acacia graveolens Jack;
– Inga pyriformis Jungh.;
– Inga pyriformis Jungh. ex Miq.;
– Mimosa pedunculata W.Hunter;
– Parkia graveolens Prain;
– Parkia harbesonii Elmer;
– Parkia macrocarpa Miq.;
– Parkia macropoda Miq..

Etymology –
The term Parkia is in honor of the Scottish doctor and explorer Mungo Park (1771-1806).
The specific epithet speciosa comes from the Latin “speciosus, a, um”, that is, beautiful, magnificent, in reference to its appearance.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Parkia speciosa is a plant widespread in south-east Asia and native to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
Its natural habitat is that of rainforests where it grows on clayey and podzolic soils, even in places saturated with water, often along the banks of watercourses, at low and medium altitudes.

Description –
Parkia speciosa is a short-term deciduous tree, growing between 15 and 35 m.
The trunk is cylindrical, up to about 1 m in diameter, with smooth light gray to dark brown bark; in old specimens there may be tabular roots at the base (flattened buttress-like roots that contribute to the support of large trees) up to 1.5 m high.
The leaves are grouped in the terminal part of the branches on a 5 cm long petiole, they are alternate, 20-40 cm long, bipinnate, with 15-25 opposite pairs of pinnate leaflets, 5-9 cm long, each with 20-30 pairs of oblong-linear leaflets with rounded apex, 5-7 mm long and about 2 mm wide.
The inflorescences are found on a robust pendant peduncle about 10-30 cm long, they are axillary, oblong-pyriform, 5-9 cm long, with a dense multitude of brownish yellow flowers, sterile or male at the base, bisexual at the apex, of approximately 8mm long and 1.5mm in diameter. The calyx is tubular, 6 mm long with unequal lobes 1.5 mm long, tubular corolla slightly longer than the calyx, with 5 linear lobes with rounded apex, and 10 stamens, 1 cm long, fused at the base into a tube; the flowers, which smell of sour milk, are rich in nectar and pollinated mainly by bats.
The fruit is a flat hanging legume, more or less twisted, 25-40 cm long and 2-3 cm wide, initially light green in colour, then blackish.
Inside there are 12-16 ovoid seeds, 2-2.6 cm long and 1.4-1.8 cm wide, green in colour.

Cultivation –
Parkia speciosa is a multipurpose tree that has a long history of cultivation as a food crop by local people.
This plant is also commonly harvested in the wild and its products are sold in local markets. It is rarely grown in thick patches to allow for easier harvesting. The fruits are very popular in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Burma and northeast India.
However, it is a little-known plant outside its areas of origin. Some varieties of this species are known.
For its cultivation, keep in mind that it is a plant of humid tropical lowland areas at an altitude of less than 1,400 meters.
It grows best in areas with an average minimum and maximum temperature between 20 and 28 °C, but can tolerate 16 – 36 °C. It prefers an average annual rainfall between 1,000 and 2,000 mm, but tolerates 800 – 2,500 mm.
Young plants require some shade from intense sunlight but become more light-demanding as they grow.
From a pedological point of view it prefers well-drained loamy or loamy soils, but is also found in water-saturated soils.
It prefers a pH between 5.5 and 7, but tolerates a pH between 5 and 7.5.
The trees begin to flower when they are about 15 meters tall and can take up to 7 years from seed until they begin to grow.
Trees propagated by cuttings, on the other hand, flower and bear fruit only after a few years.
This species has a symbiotic relationship with some soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen.
Reproduction takes place by seed, which must be planted in the shortest time possible having a short germination period, in draining organic soil kept humid at a temperature of 26-28 °C, with germination times of 5-15 days and before flowering starting from the seventh year of age; more frequently, in order to reproduce certain varieties, reproduction is done by woody cutting, layering and grafting.

Customs and Traditions –
Parkia speciosa is a plant known by various names, including: garlic bean, petai bean, stink bean, twisted cluster bean (English); petai gede, sego bang (Javanese); pete, petai (Indonesian); chou dou, cong dou, patang (Malay); petai kupang (Tagalog); pa-tao, kato, sato, sator (Thai).
The plant is very popular in the areas of origin where legumes are consumed as a vegetable and the seeds, with a penetrating smell of garlic, rich in proteins, minerals and vitamins, in particular vitamin C and E, are consumed after being dried in the sun , raw, roasted or fried, or added to traditional dishes. The leaves are also used as fodder for livestock and wood, which is light and not very durable, in the manufacture of paper and plywood.
The seeds have been used since ancient times in folk medicine, in particular in the treatment of diabetes and hypertension; laboratory studies have highlighted the presence in legumes and seeds of bioactive compounds, such as flavonoids, lectins, polyphenols and phytosterols, of possible use in the official pharmacopoeia.
Parkia seeds are a highly prized ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisine; they are harvested by hand by climbing the plants and sold in bunches in local markets. They can be used either raw, dipped in sambal belacan, or toasted or stewed with fish. Only the youngest and not yet developed seeds are eaten raw, when the pod is flat, pale green, almost translucent. In northeast India the seeds are dried and spiced until they turn black for future use.
The pods are collected in the wild or from cultivated trees: they are exported in jars or cans, marinated in brine or frozen.
The vegetable is known as petai, pete in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. On the market, depending on the country of origin, Parkia species can be labeled as Wakerec, Petai, in Assamese Gachhua uri, in Meitei Yongchak, in Thadou Jongla. They are best when combined with other strong-flavored foods such as garlic, chili pepper, dried shrimp or shrimp paste, as in sambal petai. When young, the pods are flat because the seeds have not yet developed, and hang like a bundle of slightly twisted, light green, almost translucent ribbons. At this stage they can be eaten raw, fried or marinated. Tender pods with undeveloped beans can be used whole in stir-fried dishes.
The seeds are also dried and seasoned for later consumption. Once dried, the seeds turn black. Petai beans or seeds resemble broad beans. Like ripe broad beans, you may need to peel them before cooking. Petai has earned the nickname “stinky bean” because its strong odor is so pervasive. It remains in the mouth and body. Like asparagus, it contains some amino acids that give urine a strong odor, an effect that can be noticed up to two days after consumption.
In Indonesia, petai is very popular in the highlands of Java and Sumatra, especially among the Sundanese, Minangkabau and many other peoples of the island’s diverse cultures. In Sundanese cuisine petai can be eaten raw with sambal as part of lalab, fried or grilled. It can also be stir-fried and mixed with oncom. In Java and Sumatra, it might also be added to sayur lodeh or sambal goreng ati petai (diced chicken or beef liver fried in sambal and petai). Nasi goreng kambing petai is a popular variant of nasi goreng (fried rice) with goat meat and petai. In Minangkabau cuisine it usually becomes part of the lado (Minang sambal) for ayam pop (Padang style fried chicken).
In India a bouquet of Yongchaak (Meitei for “Parkia speciosa”) is generally used as part of the gifts presented to the honorable people of Manipur. It shows a Thangal woman presenting the Yongchaak to a Meitei lady.
In Manipur it is called yongchak. It is mainly grown in all the hilly areas and some other parts of the Manipur valley. The varieties found here are a little harder than their counterparts from Thailand or Malaysia. The wild hill variety is most commonly sold at the market. Some Parkia species are cultivated on a small scale by farmers in northeastern India. In mainland India it is grown as an ornamental, shade tree and border tree. This bean has also become an important ingredient in many food products in Tripura.
In Manipur, the seeds or whole bean are eaten by making a local delicacy called Hmarcha dêng, Eromba (a traditional Manipuri chutney) or Yongchak singju (a traditional Manipuri salad). Eromba is a very common cuisine in Manipur made from boiled potatoes, fermented fish, chilli and other vegetables, in this case Parkia. Yongchak singju is another favorite side dish made with Parkia chopped into small pieces and then mixed with spicy red chili paste. Parkia is also used to prepare various other fish and vegetable dishes. The Kuki tribe of Northeast India calls it “Jongha”. The Rongmei tribe of Manipur, Nagaland and Assam call it Gachhua uri which is cooked with meat or prepared as a salad, and sometimes the seeds are eaten with Chattni made of dried fish or Gankhiang khui (local fermented dry seed). The Hmar tribes of Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Manipur call it Zawngṭa (pronounced Zongtra) and prepare it mainly with chilli, baking soda, little salt and a special fermented pork called “Saum” (sa means meat, um means fermented) and he called him Zawngṭa-râwt.
In Mizoram, the Mizos are also very fond of it and call it zawngṭah. They eat the whole grain by removing the outer layer of the husk and also eat the seeds. It is eaten raw as a side dish or used as a chutney recipe. It is also served as a side dish, mixed with chilli and fermented pork fat called saum which is the same as the sathu of Manipur. It is a very common side dish among Naga people, Mizo (Zohnahthlak) like Mizo in Mizoram, Hmâr, Kuki, Chin, Zomi etc. in neighboring states and countries. In Manipur, Assam, Tripura, the Manipuris of Bangladesh (the people of Tripura call it Wakerec mosedang) call it yongchak or wakerec in the local Manipuri dialect and consume it as a salad mixed with fermented fish or, the seeds boiled or roasted alone or in a puree of boiled vegetables seasoned with fermented fish.
In Malaysia and Singapore, petai is also commonly served with sambal or mixed with dried prawns, chilies, red onions, belacan (prawn paste), soy sauce and prawns. Another popular side dish to nasi lemak or plain rice is petai beans cooked with fried dried anchovies and sautéed sambal chili (sambal tumis).
In Thailand it is called sah-taw (Thai: สะตอ, RTGS: sato), like mu phat sah-taw, stinky beans with stir-fried pork.
Other uses of this plant include agroforestry ones:
The tree is sometimes planted to provide shade for coffee plantations, nurseries etc. furthermore, wood is used for pulp in papermaking.
The wood is not durable with a lifespan of about 1 year, but the conservation treatment is simple. When fresh it has an unpleasant smell of garlic or beans. Shrinkage during maturation is low. The wood is used locally for temporary light construction, carpentry, furniture and cabinet making, mouldings, interior finishes, siding, concrete formwork, boxes and crates, matches, clogs, disposable rods and net floats.
General utility plywood was produced from the wood.

Preparation Method –
Parkia speciosa is a plant used for both food, medicinal and other uses.
The seed is eaten raw or cooked.
The seeds have a rather strong taste and smell, similar to garlic, which persists for hours.
It is eaten by hand, boiled, roasted or added to soups.
The dried seeds are peeled and fried in oil. Because of the foul odor of the green seeds, they are sometimes called the “stinky-smelling beans.”
The seed has a high nutritional value.
The receptacles of the inflorescence, light yellow in colour, pear-shaped, are cut into slices and eaten raw.
The young, tender pods are sliced ​​and eaten with stir-fried vegetable dishes.
The young leaves are eaten raw.
In the medicinal field, the seeds are known to be hypoglycemic and are traditionally used for the treatment of kidney pain, cancer, diabetes, hepatalgia, edema, nephritis, colic, cholera and as an anthelmintic.
The seeds are also appreciated as a carminative and are applied externally to wounds and ulcers.
The inner red bark is applied as a dressing to burns, followed several hours later by an infusion of the pounded white wood, which is used to wash the skin.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

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Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and food uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; we therefore decline any responsibility for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.

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