(Sterculina foetida – Family Sterculiaceae)
Java olive is a name that is sometimes applied to a kind of pili nut, but more properly belongs to the seeds of a tall tree commonly found in Africa, India, southeast Asia, and Australia. The tree is called “fetid” because of the smell of its flowers. The seeds, however, have none of the smell or unpleasant taste, but are still only safe to eat after being fried or roasted. The dark brown fruits are the same size and shape of olives and borne in a big, red-lobed pod. Other Asian species with edible seeds include the following: S. alata, common in much of Southeast Asia, where it is sometimes called “Buddha’s coconut,” and S. chicha, found in Latin America and having seeds which are used as a substitute for cola nuts reputed to taste like chocolate. This is not surprising because it comes from the same family as the cacao tree.