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Seashore and Beach Plants

Caesalpinia bonduc Gray nicker Kaniker Fabaceae

 

 Gray nicker, Caesalpinia bonduc

 

Caesalpinia bonduc

Caesalpinia bonduc

Nickernuts or nickar nuts are smooth, shiny seeds from tropical leguminous shrubs, particularly Caesalpinia bonduc and C. major, both known by the common name warri tree. C. bonduc produces gray nickernuts, and C. major produces yellow. Accordingly, these species are locally known in the Caribbean as "grey nickers" and "yellow nickers".
The word nicker probably derives from the Dutch word "knikker", meaning clay marble.
In the Caribbean, nickernuts are used to play mancala games such as oware. The nickernut is marble-like and good for other uses, such as for jewellery; it is also sometimes ground up to make a medicinal tea.
The seeds are often found on the beach, and are also known as sea pearls or eaglestones.
Caesalpinia and Merremia seeds sometimes drift long distances.
The seeds contain bonducin, a white, bitter glycoside that is sometimes referred to as "poor man's quinine." Bonducin has been used as a substitute for quinine in the treatment of intermittent malarial fever. In the Caribbean, nickernuts were ground with roasted senna seeds (probably Cassia occidentalis) to make a medicinal coffee or tea. Numerous naturopathic remedies have been attributed to the soothing tea including colds and stomach disorders.

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