Butea monosperma Roxb. ex Willd. or flame of the forest has medicinal value
Butea monosperma Roxb. ex Willd. Vernacular Names :- Assam : Polah ; Bengal : Kinka ; Bihar : Paras ; Bombay : Khakara ; Central provinces : Pharas ; English : Flame of the forest, Bastard teak ; Gujrat : Pallaso ; Hindi : Palas, Dhak , Tesu ; Punjab: Pahal ; Sanskrit : Raktak pushpaka ; Tamil : Palasu ; Telgu : Kimsukamu. Family :- Papilionaceae. Distribution :- It is found in Ceylon and throughout India. Morphology :- An erect tree of 20-40 feet in height with crooked trunk and irregular downy or tomentose branches. Bark is ash coloured and rough or at times olivaceo-reddish. Leaves trifoliate with three leaflets, which are leathery in texture, the terminal leaflet is blunt oval in shape. The leaflet measures from 4-8 inches in length and is above as broad as long. The lateral leaflets are smaller, oblique, strongly nerved, glabrous above and silky below. They are broader at the base and more rounded. They measure from 4-6 x 3-4 inches. Flowers orange-red colour, 2-6 on short axillary, densely pubescent peduncles. Calyx 6-7 mm long, deep velvety, olive green externally and clothed with silken hairs within. Corolla bears 5 flame orange coloured petals apparently that is outer standard petals, 2 smaller wing petals and a much curved, beak shaped keel which is really formed by the fusion of 2 petals. Pods pale-green when young and fades to pale yellowish brown or grey when ripe. It is straight, apiculate, clothed with long, soft, brownish hair and with deep obliquely-transverse lines between the seeds. Pods bear black, oval, flat and smooth 4-6 seeds. Pods are pendulous, stalked, thickened at the sutures, reticulately veined and tomentosa (Blatter and Millard, 1993). Chemical composition :- Plants yield gum, Bengal kino and a coumaranone glucoside, palasitrin. Jalaric esters I and II, laccijalaric esters III and IV occur in soft resin and leucocynitril in gum. A nitrogenous acidic compound along with palasonin, -amyrin, -sitosterol, its glucoside and sucrose isolated from seeds. Seed oil affords glycerides of palmitic, stearic, lignoceric and linoleic acid. Flowers contain 7 flavonoids, 3 being glucoside of butin, 3 of butein and the last sulphurein being aurone glucoside. Isospermoside and monospermoside, butrin, isobutrin, coreopsim, isocoreopsim, and sulphurein are the glucoside present in the flower (Jain, Sinha and Gupta, 1991). Part used :- Bark, flowers gum, leaves, roots and seeds. (Plate – 3.1 a to e). Uses :- Roots are used for blood pressure (bark), night blindness, elephantiasis. Bark is used for snakebite, bone fracture (as splinter and wash), appetizer, aphrodisiac, laxative, anthelmintic, on piles, hydrocele ulcers, tumors, inflammation, quenches, thirst, for cough (powdered bark with honey), menorrhagia, dysentery, gravel in urine. Gum is used as astringent and is used for diarrhea, pyrosis and dysentry (from stem), for corneal opacity, syphilis, excessive perspiration, stimulant, contraceptive (50 gm gum dissolved in water given orally from fifth day of mensuration for one week). Leaf is used as astringent, tonic, aphrodesiac, for eye diseases (lotion by distillation of flowers), swellings and to disperse boils and pimples (poultice with bark), taken internally in flatulent colic, worms and piles. Flowers are used as astringent, diuretic, depurative, aphrodisiac, for sunstroke (bath with infusion of dry flowers), diarrhea, cough, leprosy, gout, boils, skin diseases, worms (crushed flowers), used as poultices, to disperse swellings and promote diuresis and mensural flow. They are given to pregnant women in case of diarrhea and applied externally in orchitis. Seeds are used for snakebite, anthelmintic, for roundworms and tapeworms, on ringworms and itching (powdered with lemon juice), for urinary discharge, piles, contraceptive and for enlarged spleen. When fresh juice of the plant is applied to ulcers and relaxed the sore throat and used in phthisis and haemorrhagic affections. As an astringent it is given in diarrhea, dyspepsia and also in fever.