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Parkia speciosa Hassk.

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Synonyms: Parkia harbesonii, Parkia macrocarpa
Common Name: Petai, Stink Bean, Twisted Cluster Bean, Nitta Tree, Nyiring, 臭豆, 葱豆
Full Sun Moderate Water Bird-Attracting Plant Butterfly Host Plant Native to Singapore Fruit or Vegetable Herb or Spice Fragrant Plant Ornamental Flowers Ornamental Leaves Tree


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Big (>30m), Medium (16m-30m), Small (6m-15m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Umbrella, Open
Maximum Height 15 m to 45 m


Native Distribution South Thailand, Sumatra, Malay Peninsular, Singapore, Palawan, and Borneo
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest, Riverine)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Vulnerable (VU))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is an umbrella-shaped tree that can grow up to 45 m tall, with pinkish or reddish-brown bark, and can form buttress roots.
Trunk Trunk up to 1 m in diameter, covered with smooth reddish-brown bark, branches minutely covered with fine short hairs.
Foliage It has alternate, stalked, twice pinnate compound leaves that are 11–45 cm long. The leaves have 11–25 pairs of side-stalk, and each has 18–42 pairs of leaflets. The leaflets are oblong, and 3–12 by 1–3 mm.
Flowers The plant produces bisexual flowers. The flowers are tiny, cream-white, and clustering on a bomb-shaped head. The heads are stalked, and 5¬.1–8.9 cm long.
Fruits Its fruits are long, straight or twisted pods that are up to 51 by 6.4 cm, and green. Each pod contains 18 seeds, which are foul smelling, green, elliptic, up to 2.3 cm across.
Others - Plant Morphology In its native range, the flowering and fruiting season of P. speciosa takes place between August to October, with an observed smaller peak between January to March. The wood of P. speciosa is susceptible to wood boring pests, such as the Lyctus beetle, and wood-staining fungi. Seeds are known to be attacked by moth larvae. 
Associated Fauna Its flowers are pollinated by bats. The seeds are eaten by mammals and hornbills. Squirrels have also been observed stripping the bark of Parkia speciosa trees to eat the inner bark. It is also the butterfly host plant for the Plain Nawab butterfly (Polyura hebe).
Cultivation Occasionally cultivated, but rarely outside its native area, ample space and light is needed for P. speciosa to grow, though some shade is required for the young saplings. Well-drained loamy or clay-loam soils are preferred, but the plant is also able to grow in waterlogged soils. Growth in pot is also possible, though this may limit the size of the plant. Growth is slow with domesticated trees taking up to 7 years to reach maturity. P. speciosa can be propagated from seed, stem cuttings and budding.
Etymology Latin Parkia, commemorates Mungo Park, a Scottish explorer, Latin speciosa, handsome, the reference to the appearance of the tree when mature.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Leaves, Edible Flowers, Edible Seeds)
Food (Herb and Spice;Fruit & Vegetable : Seeds often used as vegetable in Southeast Asian cooking for their garlicky scent and flavour. The scent may be considered foul by some people, hence its common name the “Stink Bean”, and on occasion referred to as the “evil-smelling bean”. The fresh seeds, young or ripe, may be eaten raw, cooked or roasted as a side-dish with rice. Seeds are also sun-dried then fried in oil and eaten as a snack. Semi-ripe pods pickled in salt. Young leaves and fresh flower stalks can be eaten raw, but not used to a great extent. )
Medicinal ( Seeds have hypoglycemic properties, traditionally used as folk remedy to lower blood sugar and treat diabetes, as well as kidney pain and colic. Also eaten to expel stomach gas. Seed pulp applied to wounds and ulcers. )
Timber & Products ( P. speciosa yields a lightweight, occasionally medium-weight hardwood, with a straight or slightly-interlocked grain and moderately coarse and uneven texture and having an unpleasant garlic or bean-like odour when fresh. Wood pulp used to manufacture paper. Untreated wood has service lifespan of around 1 year due to susceptibility to insect attack. Lightweight timber used as plywood, for temporary light construction, cladding, interior finishes and carpentry, as well as to make furniture, crates, fishing floats, clogs, matches and disposable chopsticks.)
Cultural / Religious ( Heritage Tree :                                                                                                                            There is currently one individual of Parkia speciosa listed as Heritage Tree in Singapore. It can be found on Sentosa. To find out more about this tree, please visit the Heritage Tree Register. )
[Others]: It is sometimes cultivated as a shade tree, such as in plantations and nurseries.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping This is a hardy tree that has attractive leaves, straight trunk with pinkish or reddish brown bark, and can grow on poor soil.
Desirable Plant Features Fragrant (Stems, Fruits), Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Foliage
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Poor Infertile Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
Landscape Uses General, Parks & Gardens, Shade Providing Tree / Palm
Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden, Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting, Caterpillar Food Plant, Bat Food
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic (Explosive Dehiscence), Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Compound
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 2.5 (Tree - Open Canopy)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Cream / Off-White, White, Yellow / Golden
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Flower Symmetry Radial
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Black, Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Legume / Pod

Image Repository



Master ID 1759
Species ID 3052
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 18 February 2022.