|Latin Name :||Dipteryx odorata (synonym: Coumarouna odorata)|
|English Name :||Tonka bean, Tonka seed|
|French Name :||Fève tonka|
|Origin :||Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana, France|
History and Origin
Tonka beans are found in the Brazilian teak-tree fruit (Dipteryx odorata), a tree which can reach up to 30 meters in height and bearing violet flowers. Its fruits look like mangoes. The tree is from the Caribbean region and South America. It can mainly be found in Venezuela, Guyana and in Brazil.
The word tonka comes from the Tupi language, spoken by the Amerindians from Guyana and Brazil. The name refers to the tree itself. One of the main substances tonka bean is made of, the coumarin, gets its name from another Tupi word to designate the tree, kumaru. The substance was isolated for the first time in 1820 from tonka beans.
The Amazon Indians consider it as a lucky charm. According to tradition, simply make a wish with a tonka bean in the left hand and a snake in the right hand for it to happen.