Flame of the Forest - Butea Monosperma - Palash Tree - Some Uses and Health Benefits
Who hasn't been overawed by the beauty of the Flame of the forest tree? With flowers a bright orange, this tree is a sight to watch come spring and the whole area glows as if it is on fire when it is at its zenith of glory.
Flame of the forest can refer to 3 trees from different families, genera, species :
- Butea monosperma, called Palash in India.
- Delonix regia, called Gulmohar in India.
- Spathodea campanulata, called Picchkari or Nandi flame in India.
This article is on the Palash tree - Butea monosperma.
Latin Name : Butea monosperma.
In India flame of the forest is called Palash, Dhak or Tesu.
Palash Tree Flower
Palash - Flame Of The Forest Tree
Some other common names are Parrot tree, Bastard teak, Bengal kino, Bingo kino.
The tree is native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is a slow-growing tree that reaches a height of 40 to 50 feet. It has a crooked trunk and irregular branches. The leaves are 3-foliate and the flowers a bright orange-red colour. One can see the tree flowering in spring and in full bloom, hardly any flowers are visible on the branches. From afar a cluster of trees gives the impression of fire in the forest and hence the name.
The tree is a host for the Lac insect which produces natural lacquer.
In India, this tree is associated with spring and various legends and myths are associated with this tree. The tree is held sacred in South India and its wood is used in Hindu fire rituals called yagna.
The flowers of this tree do not open straight and even the unopened flowers are curved like a parrot's beak.
Uses Of Flame Of The Palash Tree
The tree provides wood, resin, fodder, medicine, gum and dye.
The wood is soft but durable even in eater and is used to make well curbs and water scoops. Charcoal of good quality is made from its wood.
The wood pulp is used for newsprint manufacturing.
The leaves are joined together to make a leaf plate to serve food and even bowls are prepared from the leaves.
The flowers yield a colour that is used to dye fabric and is also used as colour during Holi, the traditional Indian festival of colours.
The tree provides a gum that contains tannins that are used in the leather industry as well as in drugs. The gum is also used in some food preparations.
The flowers act as a bait to attract mosquitoes to lay their eggs. They die when they enter the flower as they are not able to come out as they get caught in the fluid contained in the flower. The eggs that these mosquitoes lay in the fluid do not hatch as well.
The bark fibres are used to make cordage.
Chemical Compounds Found In The Palash Tree
The gum contains gallic and tannic acids.
The seeds contain a yellow oil called kino tree oil, some quantity of resin and a good quantity of water-soluble albuminoids.
Fresh seeds contain proteolytic and lipolytic enzymes.
The flowers contain glycosides as well as the fatty acids found in the oil.
The bark contains kino tannic acid, gallic acid, pyrocatechin and glycosides.
Health Benefits Of Palash
As per Ayurveda, the tree balances Vata and Pitta. It has been used extensively in Ayurvedic, Unani and Homeopathic medicine.
The extracts of various parts of the tree, as well as the whole parts, possess anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, hypoglycemic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, tonic, aphrodisiac and diuretic properties.
The leaves have astringent, carminative, anthelmintic, aphrodisiacal, tonic, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, wound healing properties.
A hot poultice of leaves relieves boils, pimples, skin ulcers, swelling and bleeding piles. The juice of leaves can be used as an enema.
A decoction of the leaves treats leucorrhea and diabetes. They can be put into a douche to treat leucorrhea.
The leaves are good for eye diseases.
The flowers have astringent, antidiarrheal, anti-cancer, hepatoprotective, antioxidative, expectorant, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, anti gonorrheal, tonic, aphrodisiacal and emmenagogue properties.
They are also depurative, remove swelling and promote menstrual flow, prevent pus formation in the urogenital tract of males.
Extracts of flowers have free radical scavenging activity. They also have a strong chemoprotective effect.
The seeds have anthelmintic activity.
The seeds treat diarrhoea, When ground and mixed with lemon juice, and applied, they can relieve the itching of ringworm and eczema.
The crushed seeds have the potency to kill maggots in wounds and sores.
The fruit and seeds are useful in piles, eye diseases, inflammation. They cure skin diseases, abdominal troubles and tumours.
The bark is acrid and bitter and has appetizing, aphrodisiacal, laxative, anthelmintic, properties.
It is useful in bone fractures, piles, hydrocele, liver disorders, gonorrhoea, dysmenorrhea, biliousness and purifies the blood. It cures diarrhoea, dysentery, sore throat, ulcers, tumours and neutralizes snake-bite poison.
A paste of the stem bark relieves body swelling. Stem juice benefits if applied on goitre.
The roots possess anti-fertility, aphrodisiacal and analgesic properties.
They are useful in night blindness, filariasis, helminthiasis, piles, ulcers and tumours. They cure night blindness and other eye defects.
The gum is astringent to the bowels. It relieves stomatitis, cough, excessive perspiration and corneal opacity.
The gum is used for treating diarrhoea and dysentery. A decoction or infusion of the gum is used as an enema.
Some Specific Ayurvedic Remedies With Palash
Warm-up some fresh flowers by hot water steam by placing them on a wire rack placed over boiling water. When the flowers are warm enough tie them over any swelling on the body. It is so effective that it removes swelling of arthritis, injury, sprains or due to any other reason, in a day. Dry flowers can also be used if fresh flowers are unavailable.
The flowers also reduce the number of toxins in the body. It detoxifies the liver and treats liver disorders as well.
Powder the dry flowers and consume 1 to 2 grams of powder per day. The powder is bitter but is a wonderful detoxifier and will also improve strength.
- Sexual disorders Like Impotency, etc
Powder the dry flowers. Add candy sugar or mishri to the powder and take twice a day about 3 grams of this mixture with milk, morning and evening. It cures impotency.
Heat root pieces. 2 to 3 tsp of the extract from these roots are to be taken every night for a month for a cure.
The seeds are more beneficial than the flowers for this purpose.
- Infections Of The Stomach/Intestine, Wounds, Ulcers etc
Consuming the powdered flowers also benefits in these conditions.
- Diabetes & Leucorrhea
Take a mixture of 1.5 grams each of powdered flowers and candy sugar every morning. Those with diabetes should not add sugar.
- To Reduce Body Heat & Chronic Fever
Crush flowers in milk, add sugar and drink 3 to 4 spoons per day for a month.
Make an infusion of the flowers by soaking them in water overnight. Drink 1 cup every morning. Continue till cured.
- Intestinal Worms
The seeds remove roundworms and threadworms.
- Urinary Complaints And Urinary Stones
Crush seeds in milk and take 2 tsp of this mixture orally. It relieves these problems.
2 tsp of leaf powder mixed with 1 cup of water taken daily for a month cures.
- Sore Throat
Gargle with leaf extract to get relief.
- Irregular Bleeding During Menses
Drink 3 to 4 tsp of leaf extract at night for 2 to 3 months.
- Cracks In Feet
Apply gum on the cracks for relief.
- Snake Bite
1 tsp of root powder mixed with water when drunk acts as an antidote.
The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.
There are innumerable studies done on the medicinal uses of Butea monosperma. The following is a small list:
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Palash Tree - Flame of Forest
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly