Parkia timoriana commonly called tree bean, is a large, semi-deciduous tree native to lowland, tropical forests in Southeast Asia and northeast India. Common in cultivation and often found as a shade tree in home gardens. Mature trees will reach up to 100' tall with a broad, spreading canopy of similar width. The bipinnately compound foliage can reach up to 1' long. Its numerous, small, fine leaflets create a feathery texture. The leaves remain on the tree for most of the year but fall off for a brief time during the dry season. Pear-shaped, pendant clusters of tiny white and yellow flowers bloom in spring and hang from the branches on sturdy stalks up to 1.5' long. The flowers are followed by linear, green seedpods (up to 1' long) that mature to a glossy black. The young, tender pods and seeds can be cooked and eaten. Commonly planted as a shade tree in home gardens and coffee plantations. Best grown in evenly moist, loamy, well-draining, slightly acidic soils in full sun.
Growing Instructions for the Tree Bean
The seeds have a hard seed coat that has to be treated, or scarified, in order for water to enter the seeds so that they can sprout. 1. Scarify the seeds by nicking or sanding the seed coat. The seeds can be sanded with sandpaper, a nail file or an emery board. 2. Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours. 3. The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Use a sterile seed starter mix, if available. It prevents soil fungi from damaging the seeds and the seedlings. If not available, then make a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. 4. Put the soil in a pot. Sow the seeds on the soil. 5. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil. 6. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet. 7. Place the pots in an area with warm temperatures in full sun or part shade. 8. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.