Also called palash, tesu or Flame of the Forest, the plant grows as a medium-sized tree and is a native to India. The tree grows up to 40 feet high and has a distinctive appearance due to its grey bark, irregular branches and crooked trunk. The pinnate leaves have three leaflets each, which also brings to the very famous Hindi saying, ‘dhaak ke teen paat.’ The tree doesn’t flower until January, and even its leaves fall until then. From January to March, the tree is laden with orange-vermillion flowers, which also lend it the most famous name, ‘The Tree of the Flame!’ The flowers have five petals with a beak-shaped keel. The keel also earns it another colloquial name- parrot tree. Birds are the main pollinators of the flowers. The flowers grow in clusters on leafless branches.
Tesu flowers or Butea Monosperma were used to make natural colour during the festival of Holi. In Manipur, when a member of the Meitei community dies and his body is untraceable, the rest of the family cremates the wood of this tree instead of the body. The flowers are the perfect way to control and manage indoor pollutants. In tribal areas, women use the flowers to adorn themselves. Palash flowers are believed to have religious value and are used in havan or yagna ceremonies. Palash is considered a sacred tree and Indian Postal Department also issued a postal stamp to celebrate the value of the flower it adds to Indian landscape. Palash / Butea Monosperma is also the state flower of Jharkhand. It is also believed that palash is the form of the God of life himself- Agni.
It is a wonderful thing to notice here that each part of this tree from flowers to leaves, bark, seed, stem and gum, everything is of use. The tree has been used extensively in alternative medicines such as Unani, Homeopathy and Ayurveda medicines for its analgesic, aphrodisiac and antifertility properties.
Medicinal Use of Palash Ke Phool:
- Palash is a medicinal Indian herb and is used as an external as well as an internal remedy for the management of various ailments.
- Palash bark is applied externally to treat wounds and cuts.
- Palash seeds have a compound known as palaosin and often used to treat worm infestation. The seeds are also laxative in nature.
- The gum can be used to treat dysentery and diarrhoea.
- Dried flowers are used as colour and in bathing to cure skin rashes and infection in summers. The flowers are rich in Sulphur, which makes them perfect treatment for skin ailments. The flowers purify and cleanse the bloodstream of free radicals. The paste of flowers is also applied externally to cure joint pains, swelling, sprains, injury and arthritis. The bark of the tree also has blood purifying properties.
- The concoction made by flowers is beneficial in impotency and menstrual cramps.
- Fruits and seeds of the plant are used to treat skin ulcers, piles and disorders related to eyes such as cataract.
- Roots of a palash tree is used as an analgesic. They are also used to cure night blindness.