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
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