The genus Parkia is named after the African explorer Mungo Park. It has thirty species, distributed across the tropics. The species in today's photograph, Parkia biglandulosa, is native to Malaysia, but despite its Asian origin, one of its common names reflects what some once thought might be its native distribution: African locust-tree. Perhaps the first encounter with this species by European explorers occurred in Africa, where the species had been cultivated. For what purpose? Lost Crops of Africa provides a clue: “Seeds roasted, also a substitute for coffee; seedlings also consumed.”
A close relative of Parkia biglandulosa, Parkia speciosa, is also consumed as a food. As an aside, those of you who are fans of Bohnanza will note that one common name of Parkia speciosa is stink bean.
The densely-flowered tennis-ball sized inflorescence of Parkia biglandulosa is only covered with open flowers for one night, according to Mabberley's “The Plant Book”.