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Tonka bean

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Tonka bean
Tonka Beans
Scientific classification
D. odorata
Binomial name
Dipteryx odorata
(Aubl.) Willd.

Coumarouna odorata Aubl.
Coumarouna tetraphylla (Benth.) Aubl.
Dipteryx tetraphylla Benth.

The tonka bean is the seed of Dipteryx odorata, a species of flowering tree in the pea family Fabaceae. They are black and wrinkled and have a smooth brown center.


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.

The beans were also spelled as "Tonquin"[1] and "Tonkin",[2] although it has no link with Tonkin, now part of Vietnam.


  1. Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford (1851)
  2. "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