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Putting the Saga in Saga Seeds

Hi All!

According to, a saga is something used to define a "narrative or legend of heroic exploits". So we can already guess that saga pretty much has a very deep and powerful meaning in it - so what is up with saga seeds?

Photo courtesy of NParks

Known to the scientific community as Adenanthera pavonina, their bright red and shiny seeds sure are an eye catcher for those who walk by them; but are they powerful enough to be associated with "saga"? Why, yes of course!

There's a story behind why these saga seeds are notorious in Singapore's pastime, especially for our younger children at the time. Collecting these seeds were almost as cool as collecting marbles, stamps and postcards. Some would place them in special glass jars or bottles to use as a beautiful ornament or decoration in their home while others might even give it to their crush or love partners to express their love and affection for them. Speaking of which in Chinese, these saga seeds are called 相思豆 (xiang si dou) or "mutual love beans" in English and have been associated as a love symbol, too. Saga seeds to them were the lucky paper stars to us (if you're a 90s kid like me) And I don't know about you but to spend hours in the forest kneeling and picking up heart-shaped seeds just to give to someone you love is pretty heroic to me.

Saga tree spotted in the wild. Photo courtesy of Ria Tan.

Today, not many of these saga trees are found in Singapore but luckily enough, there are still a few of them available on Pulau Ubin!

On December 15th last year after we just did our pilot for the kampong clean-up project, Sulaiman brought me down to his hangout place that he always went to with his cousins and friends when he was growing up on the island. Along the way, we would come across a saga tree and found a lot of saga seeds scattered everywhere on the ground. He wasted no time in collecting them as he shared with me the joy he had while doing so when he was a kid. Needless to say, he was still having a good time collecting them that day as well.

Saga seed hunting mode is on!

I forgot to bring along a bottle or container of sone sort, ended up placing all of them in my left pocket, haha!

In fact just recently on January 12th, I went down to the same spot with my mom to show her the saga seeds. It was also here that my mom mentioned that my grandparents used to grow saga trees as well in their garden. I was surprised to know that my grandparents grew much more plants than I originally thought, to which she reminded me that they once had a big beautiful garden as well aside from the already big betel tree (pokok sireh) plantation that my late grandfather owned. Unfortunately based on my recent trips back into 818K, not a single trace of my grandparents' plantation and garden could be found - yet.

Almost forgot about these when I emptied my pocket at home, all of them scattered everywhere. Turns out I had to do another saga seed hunt in my room, hehe.

Anyway, after spending just five minutes collecting the seeds, the loot for the day amounted to be 35! That was quite a sizeable find considering that it was my first time picking up this new hobby. Anyway, one thing for sure I am definitely going to be collecting more of these saga seeds for my own personal decoration for my room in future.

If you'd like to know more about the saga tree and its other values and purposes, do feel free to check out wildsingapore where information on this tree and also all types of flora and fauna in Singapore can be found!

May Pulau Ubin thrive again, with its people in its heart.

Support us in making our kampongs beautiful again! Join me for the kampong clean-up on January 26th, 2019. Registration is still open and FREE! Find out more about this event down below!
"Kampong Clean-Up: Let's Make Our Kampongs Beautiful Again"


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