|Seeds of Ormosia minor|
Jacks. nom. cons.
129–154; see text
Ormosia is a genus of legumes (family Fabaceae). The more than 100 living species, mostly trees or large shrubs, are distributed throughout the tropical regions of the world, some extending into temperate zones, especially in East Asia. A few species are threatened by habitat destruction, while the Hainan ormosia (Ormosia howii) is probably extinct already.
Plants in this genus are commonly known as horse-eye beans or simply ormosias, and in Spanish by the somewhat ambiguous term "chocho". The scientific name Ormosia is a nomen conservandum, overruling Toulichiba which is formally rejected under the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants.
The seeds of these plants are poisonous if eaten, but often look pretty, with bright colors and decorative patterns reminiscent of an eye; the common name "horse-eye beans" refers to these seeds. They resemble the seeds of Abrus, snoutbeans (Rhynchosia), and Adenanthera, but are much larger than the former two. In particular those of Ormosia coccinea are often used for jewelry and other decorative purposes, or as good luck charms. The seeds float and are occasionally found as "sea beans".
Otherwise, Ormosia wood is used as timber or firewood. Some species, for example Ormosia nobilis, are also used in folk medicine.
8 dehiscent seed pod fossils of one Ormosia species from the middle Eocene epoch have been examined from Warman clay pit in Weakley County, while 52 fossil leaflets of two Ormosia species have been described from Warman, New Lawrence and Lamkin clay pits in Weakley and Henry Counties, Tennessee, United States.
Ormosia comprises the following species:
The status of the following species is unresolved:[verification needed]