Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Perennial, Trees, Woody throughout, Nodules present, Stems erect or ascending, Stems or branches arching, spreading or decumbent, Stems greater than 2 m tall, Stems solid, Leaves alternate, Leaves petiolate, Petioles winged, Stipules inconspicuous, absent, or caducous, Stipules free, Leaves compound, Leaves even pinnate, Leaf or leaflet margins entire, Leaflets opposite, Leaflets alternate or subopposite, Leaflets 4, Leaflets 5-9, Leaflets 10-many, Leaves glandular punctate or gland-dotted, Leaves glabrous or nearly so, Inflorescence panicles, Inflorescence terminal, Bracts very small, absent or caducous, Bracteoles present, Flowers zygomorphic, Calyx 5-lobed, Calyx 2-lipped or 2-lobed, Calyx gibbous, inflated, or spurred, Calyx glabrous, Petals separate, Corolla papilionaceous, Petals clawed, Petals pinkish to rose, Banner petal ovoid or obovate, Wing petals narrow, oblanceolate to oblong, Keel tips obtuse or rounded, not beaked, Stamens 9-10, Stamens monadelphous, united below, Filaments glabrous, Style terete, Fruit a legume, Fruit unilocular, Fruit indehiscent, Fruit orbicular to subglobose, Fruit fleshy, Fruit coriaceous or becoming woody, Fruit exserted from calyx, Fruit glabrous or glabrate, Fruit 1-seeded, Seeds ovoid to rounded in outline, Seed surface smooth, Seeds olive, brown, or bl ack.
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Dr. David Bogler

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Type Information

Isotype for Dipteryx tetraphylla Spruce
Catalog Number: US 2249581
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of original publication
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): R. Spruce
Locality: Barra, Rio Negro., Brazil, South America
  • Isotype: Spruce, R. 1860. J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 4: 125.
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© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Dipteryx odorata

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Dipteryx odorata

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Wikipedia

Dipteryx odorata

Dipteryx odorata (commonly known as "cumaru" or "kumaru") is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae. That tree is native to Central America and northern South America.[1] Its seeds are known as tonka beans (sometimes tonkin beans or tonquin beans). They are black and wrinkled and have a smooth, brown interior. They have a strong fragrance similar to sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) due to their high content of coumarin.

The word "tonka" is taken from the Galibi (Carib) tongue spoken by natives of French Guiana; it also appears in Tupi, another language of the same region, as the name of the tree. The old genus name, Coumarouna, was formed from another Tupi name for tree, kumarú.

Biology of the tree[edit]

The tree itself grows up to 25–30 meters, with a trunk of up to one meter in diameter.[2] The tree bark is smooth and gray whereas the wood is red.[3] The tree has alternate pinnate leaves with 3-6 leaflets, leathery, glossy and dark green, and pink flowers. Each developed fruit contains one seed. D. odorata is pollinated by insects. The worst pests are the bats because they eat the pulpy flesh of the fruit. There are a few fungi known, which may cause problems: Anthostomella abdita, Diatrype ruficarnis, Macrophoma calvuligera and Myiocopron cubense. [2]

The seeds[edit]

The tonka seed contains coumarin, a chemical isolate from this plant, which also gave the name to it. The seeds contain about 1 to 3% of coumarin, rarely it can achieve 10%.[2] Coumarin is responsible for the pleasant odor of the seeds and is used in the perfume industry. Coumarin is bitter to the taste, however, and, in large infused doses, it may cause hemorrhage and liver damage as well as it can paralyze the heart.[2] It is therefore controlled as a food additive by many governments. Like a number of other plants, the tonka bean plant probably produces coumarin as a defense chemical. Radio-carbon dating of D. odorata stumps left by a large logging operation near Manaus by Niro Higuchi, Jeffrey Chambers and Joshua Schimel, showed that it was one of around 100 species which definitely live to over 1,000 years. Until their research, it had been assumed unlikely that any Amazonian tree could live to old age due to the conditions of the rain forest.[4]

The smooth brown inside of the tonka bean

Uses[edit]

Tonka beans had been used as a vanilla substitute, as a perfume, and in tobacco before being banned in some countries. They are used in some French cuisine (particularly, in desserts and stews) and in perfumes.

Its use in food industry is banned in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration.[5] Many anticoagulant prescription drugs, such as warfarin, are based on 4-hydroxycoumarin, a chemical derivative of coumarin initially isolated from this bean. Coumarin itself, however, does not have anticoagulant properties.[citation needed]

The beans were formerly also spelled "tonquin"[6] and "tonkin",[7] although it has no connection with Tonkin, now part of Vietnam.

Tonquin is still used today to flavor some pipe tobaccos, e.g., Samuel Gawith 1792 Flake.

Cumaru, also known as Brazilian Teak, is an increasingly popular hardwood used for flooring in the United States. It has a very appealing natural color variation and is considered quite durable as it has a 3540 rating on the Janka Hardness Scale.

Cultivation[edit]

Today, the main producers of tonka beans are Venezuela and Nigeria. The cumaru tree is an emergent plant, and a light-demanding calcifuge tree which grows on poor, well drained soils. The best growth is reached on fertile soils rich in humus. In the native region there is a mean annual temperature of 25 °C and approximately 2000 mm rainfall per year with a dry season from June to November.[8] In general it has a very low plant density. But depending on the agricultural use the density and also the age of the trees diversifies. In seed production systems, the plant density is higher and the trees are older than in timber production systems.[8] The tree is flowering from March to May, and the fruits ripen until June to July.[2] So the fresh fruits are picked up in June and July, fallen pods are harvested from January to March [2] or sometimes earlier.[3] The hard outer shell is removed and the beans are spread out for 2–3 days to dry and after that they can be sold.[2] The major producer is Venezuela, followed by Brazil and Colombia. The most important importing country are the United States. There it is used especially in the tobacco industry.[2]

Social aspects[edit]

This species is well known locally and generates an important income for rural families particularly as a buffer in times of hardship.[3] It is used for timber and non-timber products and so it is crucial that the use of this resource occurs in a sustainable way. The yield of beans per tree is about 1-3.5 kg per year but Cumaru trees produce a large volume of seeds every four years. This fact results in a gender dynamic. During years of low seed productivity, household income is controlled by the women. They invest in the family by buying food and basic resources such as clothing and school supplies. In years of heavy production, men control the income. During those seasons, they invest in the family by buying vehicles and tools, such as motorcycles and chainsaws.[3]

Herbal and mythological properties[edit]

In the pagan and occult communities, the tonka bean is considered to have magical properties and uses. Some who practice magical arts believe that by crushing a tonka bean and steeping it in an herbal brew or tea it will help cure ailments of depression, disorientation, confusion, and suicidal behavior, as well as boost the immune system.[citation needed]

It is also believed by some practitioners of various occult traditions that tonka beans can grant or help one fulfill desires and wishes by using the bean in a variety of methods.[9] Such methods include holding the bean in your hand while whispering a wish or desire, then carrying it with you until your wish or desire is fulfilled, then burying the bean afterwards. Another common method is by making your wish with the bean in your hand, then stomping on it afterwards. Other methods include making a wish, then planting it in fertile earth, with the belief that as the plant grows, so does the wish become fulfilled.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dae Sik Jang, Eun Jung Park, Michael E. Hawthorne, Jose Schunke Vigo, James G. Graham, Fernando Cabieses, Bernard D. Santarsiero, Andrew D. Mesecar, Harry H. S. Fong, Rajendra G. Mehta, John M. Pezzuto, and A. Douglas Kinghorn, 2003. Potential Cancer Chemopreventive Constituents of the Seeds of Dipteryx odorata (Tonka Bean). Journal of Natural Products, Volume 66, Number 5
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h CRC handbook of alternative cash crops, page 238-239
  3. ^ a b c d Patricia Shanley, Murilo da Serra Silva, Tadeu Melo, Rachel Carmenta, Robert Nasi, 2012. From conflict of use to multiple use: Forest management innovations by small holders in Amazonian logging frontiers. Forest Ecology and Management 268:70-80
  4. ^ Anna Lewington and Edward Parker, Ancient Trees: Trees that Live for a Thousand Years (Collins & Brown: London, 1999), p. 64
  5. ^ "2006 CFR Title 21, Volume 3". Retrieved 2009-07-06. 
  6. ^ Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford (1851)
  7. ^ "Ate His Chop in Solitude: Tennyson's Aloofness Respected by Fellow Diners at Restaurant He Patronized", The Mt. Sterling Advocate. Wednesday, October 6, 1909. Mt. Sterling, KY: Harris and Mason
  8. ^ a b Cristina Herrero-Jáuregui, Plinio Sist, Miguel A. Casado, 2012. Population structure of two low-density neotropical tree species under different management systems. Forest Ecology and Management 208:31-39
  9. ^ http://www.alchemy-works.com/herb_tonka_beans.html
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