Lead tree is more popularly known as Ipil-Ipil. Apart from its unique name, the tree is also renowned for its numerous health benefits. This evergreen plant is a native to South Asia, Australia, Philippines and Pacific islands.
Guaje or ipil seeds pods are thin, flat and approximately a foot long in length. The smooth yet tough skin of the pod is green to red in color and slightly translucent allowing the encapsulated seeds to show as spots along the length of the pod. Its seeds are small and green, similar in size and shape to shelled pumpkin seeds. While the Guaje pods are considered inedible, the seeds are tender when green and fresh and become firmer and take on a brown hue as they dry and age. Their flavor is green, sharp and slightly bitter with nuances of pumpkin seed, garlic, grass, avocado and okra.
The seeds of the Guaje can be used fresh when young and green but are most commonly used dried or roasted. In Mexico the dried seeds are roasted and salted and eaten as a snack that is also known as “cacalas”. Popular in Mexican cuisine they are often ground and added to salsas and guacamole. Their flavor enhances soups and sauces, particularly moles. Add ground Guaje seeds to rice dishes, curries, omelets, roasted root vegetables or batter for fritters. Roasting or frying the seeds prior to use will enhance their flavor and impart a subtle sweetness to the seeds. Like many legumes the seeds of the Guaje are high in protein. For this reason they have long been used as a feed for livestock.
In some provinces, seeds occasionally used as a coffee substitute. Leaves and seeds used as human food in Central America, Indonesia and Thailand, and eaten in processed or unprocessed forms. In Java, seeds are fermented and eaten as sprouts or bean cake.
It is also good in treatment for intestinal worms. If the leaves are consumed continuously, they are able to eradicate worms that settles in your body. Prevent cancer, the leaves are able to take care of the cells and healthiness inside the body so that it will not trigger cancer to occur. Ipil ipil leaves had proven effective in eradicating skin disorders; such as acne and itchiness. It also prevent insomnia.
I had a memorable time in grocery store today, found me giggling and in awed because of some vegetables that were sold in the market like “guajes” if I am not mistaken in my native town we called it “palomaria” o ipil-ipil. In 4 decade of my existence I am not aware this plant can be eaten. I remember my younger years, we removed the seeds from pods and who ever do it first wins, not knowing it is part of legumes family and have a nutritional value.