Adenanthera pavonina

Common name: Red sandalwood

Other common names: Circassian bean, Circassian seed, Coral wood, Jubie beads, False wiliwili, Peacock tree, Red bead tree, Saga tree, Sanderswood

Names in non-English languages: Philippines French India Spanish German


Red Sandalwood is a timber and fuelwood tree with a wide natural distribution, its native range extending from India through Southeast Asia to Australia and the Western Pacific. And from there, it was introduced into countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Central America, where it has become well-established and naturalised. 

It attains heights of up to 25 m (82 ft) in its natural forests, though it is more commonly 10 to 15 m (32 to 50 ft) tall. Under favourable conditions, it develops a single trunk that supports a wide-spreading, rounded crown. However, it is often forked or multi-trunked in the drier parts of its range, especially on nutrient-poor soils. The bark is dark brown and slightly fissured.

The leaves are 30 to 60 cm (1 to 2 ft) long and twice-feathered, consisting of many dull green, oblong leaflets with blunt ends, alternately arranged along the ends of the branches. In seasonally dry areas, they fall from the tree to conserve water.

The flowers are small and insignificant, creamy-white to pale yellow, tightly packed in narrow, tail-like clusters arising at the ends of the branches. They bloom from late summer to early winter and are followed by slim seedpods up to 25 cm (10 in) long.

Darwin, Australia


The wood is medium-weight to heavy, in the 600 to 800 kgs per cubic meter (37 to 50 lbs per cubic ft) range and has good natural resistance to rot and decay. This makes it suitable for indoor and outdoor construction. 

When sawn, it reveals attractive dark reddish-brown, wavy-patterned heartwood, used mainly for making furniture and cabinets. Small diameter lengths are cut for in-ground poles and posts, such as fence posts and for firewood and charcoal, to which it is well suited.

It was once commonly planted to shade coffee (Coffea arabica) and cacao (Theobroma cacao) crops because of its fast growth and moderate shading, allowing some sunlight to pass through to the crops below. However, this use is now discouraged due to its weediness.

The shiny red seed are softened in boiling water and threaded to make fashion jewellery, including necklaces, bracelets and other wearable fashion, sometimes intricately designed.


Grows naturally in moderately humid to humid tropical lowland climates, generally areas with annual lows of 18 to 25°C, annual highs of 27 to 35°C, annual rainfall of 1200 to 6000 mm and a dry season of 5 months or less. However, it reaches its best development as a timber tree in areas with annual rainfall of 1800 mm or more.


New plants are usually started from seed, which are sometimes slow to germinate. They are best pre-treated by immersing them in boiling water for around a minute or leaving them to soak in tap water for a day or two. Seedlings and mature trees perform best on free-draining clay-loam, loam, sandy-loam and loamy-sand soils of a moderately acid to neutral nature, generally with a pH of 5.5 to 7.5, and on sites with full to partial sun exposure.

Problem features

It is listed as a high weed risk in more than one reference publication. A high seed production rate and the speed with which dense stands can form causes it to displace native flora, preventing their regeneration. Humans are mainly responsible for its spread outside of its native range by importing and cultivating it as an ornamental and with seed-eating birds the primary dispersal agent. It is assessed as a high weed risk species for Hawaii by the Hawaii Pacific Weed Risk Assessment (HPWRA) project.

The seed are reportedly poisonous if ingested.

Where it grows



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