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Tonka

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Tonka Beans

Tonka

DescriptionEdit

Dipteryx odorata (commonly known as "cumaru" or "kumaru") is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae, that is native to the Orinoco region of northern South America. Its seeds are known as Tonka beans. They are black and wrinkled and have a smooth brown interior. Their fragrance is reminiscent of vanilla, almonds, cinnamon, and cloves.

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. Today, main producers of the seeds are Venezuela and Nigeria.

Its use in food is banned in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration. The seed contains the anticoagulant coumarin, which can be lethal in large doses. Many anticoagulant prescription drugs, such as warfarin, are based on coumarin.

The beans were formerly also spelled "Tonquin" and "Tonkin", although it has no connection with Tonkin, now part of Vietnam.

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