Shikakai (Acacia Concinna)

Botanical Name :Acacia Concinna
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Mimosoideae
Genus: Acacia
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Species: A. concinna

Synonyms   :  Acacia hooperiana Zipp. ex Miq. Acacia philippinarurn Benth. Acacia poilanei Gagnep. Acacia polyceph

Common Names:  Shikakai, Soap-Pod

Other Names:  Aila, Atouqie, Banritha, Chikaka, Chikakai, Kochi, Lahiur, Ritha, Shikai, Shikakai, Shikaya, Sige, Sikakai, Soap-pod tree, Som poi, Song bai.


Habita
t :Native to Asia, common in the warm, plains of central and south India. It grows in  rain forest, disturbed forest, open grassland, fields, creek sides, in open areas often a sprawling shrub; also recorded from limestone; at elevations from 50 – 1050 metres.
Found in: Asia, China, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Pacific, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, PNG, SE Asia, Thailand, Vietnam.

Description:
Acacia concinna is an evergreen Tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a medium rate. It is a thorny spreading shrub or tree that can either be scandent or climb into other plants. Bark is light grey. Leaves are oblong 4-10mm long forming 7-11 pairs of branches each with 17-37 pairs of leaflets. Flower buds are purple or dark red. The flowers are cream or white. Pods up to 5cm long are flat and thick with 7 seeds. The seedpods are widely used as a soap substitute in India. Plants flower throughout the year. Fruit are on trees from February to March.The tree is food for the larvae of the butterfly Pantoporia hordonia.

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It is frost tender. and are pollinated by Bees, beetles, butterflies, wasps.It can fix Nitrogen.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: neutral soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry soil and can tolerate drought. The plant is not wind tolerant.
Cultivation:
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.

Propagation:
Acacia concinna can be grown from seeds. The seedlings can be transplanted. The seed of most, if not all, members of this genus has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 – 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen – if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing.

Edible Uses:
Edible portion: Seeds, Leaves, Flowers, Vegetable. Leaves are cooked . The acid-flavoured young leaves can be used as a substitute for tamarinds (Tamarindus indica) in chutneys . They are also added to soups to make them hot and sour . They can be curried with salted fish and coconut milk. Flowers – cooked and eaten as a vegetable . Acid fruit are used in Philippine cooking to give a sour flavour. They are roasted and eaten. Seeds are edible after roasting. The young shoots are used to make pickles or cooked as a vegetable.

Constituents:

The bark contains saponin, which on hydrolysis yields lupeol, (-spinasterol and acacic acid lactone. The sugars identified are glucose, arabinose and rhamnose. It also contains hexacosanol and (- spinasterone. The saponin of bark shows spermicidal activity against human semen (Banerji and Nigam, J Indian chem Soc., 1980, 57, 1043; Banerji et al, Indian Drugs, 1979 – 80, 17,6). The tender leaves, which are acidic, are used in chutneys. The leaves contain oxalic, tartaric, citric, succinic and ascorbic acids. They also contain two alkaloids calyctomine (C12H17O3N, m.p. 138-140oC) and nicotine, besides rutin and an enzyme tartaric racimase.A new triterpenoid saponin (C36H48O5, m.p. 295oC) having the basic skeleton of oleanolic acid.

Other constituents present in the leaves are tannins, amino acids and proteins.

Medicainal  Actions and Uses :
An infusion of the leaves is used in malarial fever. A decoction of the pods relieves biliousness and acts as a purgative. It is used to remove dandruff. An ointment, prepared from the ground pods, is good for skin diseases. The pods, known as Shikai or Shikakai, are extensively used as an detergent, and the dry ones are powdered and perfumed, and sold in the market as soapnut powder. The pods are reported to be used in north Bengal for poisoning fish.

Acacia concinna extracts are used in natural shampoos or hair powders and the tree is now grown commercially in India and Far East Asia. The plant parts used for the dry powdered or the extract are the bark, leaves or pods. The bark contains high levels of saponins, which are foaming agents that are found in several other plant species. Saponin-containing plants have a long history of use as mild cleaning agents. Saponins from the plant’s pods have been traditionally used as a detergent, and in Bengal for poisoning fish; they are documented to be potent marine toxins.
Research: Recent research has shown that the tree has an antidermatophytic ability that can fight off fungi responsible for skin diseases. It also has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties and even contains some phytochemicals that may have antioxidant abilities.

Other uses
In commercial extracts, when the plant is hydrolyzed it yields lupeol, spinasterol, acacic acid, lactone, and the natural sugars glucose, arabinose and rhamnose. It also contains hexacosanol and spinasterone. The saponin of the bark has spermicidal activity against human semen. It appears to have a hormonal effect, leading to its use for contraceptive purposes.

The leaves have an acidic taste and are used in chutneys. They contain oxalic, tartaric, citric, succinic and ascorbic acids, as well as two alkaloids, calyctomine and nicotine. An infusion of the leaves has been used in anti-dandruff preparations. Extracts of the ground pods have been used for various skin diseases

. For centuries the people who have had access to this tree have used its pod-like fruit to clean their hair. They collect, dry and grind this pod into a powder which is considered a superior cleanser for lustrous long hair and has been reported as “promoting hair growth and preventing dandruff”. Because of these benefits, this powder was named “shikakai” which literally translates as “fruit for the hair”.

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Typically, shikakai is mixed with water to make a paste which is worked through the hair. It lathers moderately and cleans hair beautifully. It has a natural low pH, is extremely mild, and doesn’t strip hair of natural oils. Usually no rinse or conditioner is used since shikakai also acts as a detangler. This ancient product is probably the world’s original pH balanced shampoo.

Shikakai is a complete tonic for retaining complete softness of hair. It is a unique remedy for natural and beautiful hair.

It also helps in removing dandruff and lice.Shikakai is a nut from a tree. The powder is used to wash hair. It is very effective in removing oil and dirt from hair. The normal practice is to apply oil to hair and scalp and allow it soak for sometime. This will keep the body cool, reducing body heat & also prevent the scalp from getting dry. The powdered shikakai is used as a shampoo to wash off the oil.

Today this fruit is grown commercially in large quantities in India and the Far East. As a result, shikakai powder is readily available and continues to be commonly used as a preferred shampoo.Many popular brands are sold throughout India.

While it does not have the normal amount of foam that a regular shampoo would have it helps in strengthening the hair from its roots.Typically, shikakai is mixed with water to make a paste which is worked through the hair. It lathers moderately and cleans hair beautifully. It has a natural low pH, is extremely mild, and doesn’t strip hair of natural oils. Usually no rinse or conditioner is used since shikakai also acts as a detangler. This ancient product is probably the world’s original pH balanced shampoo.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


Resource:
http://www.sbepl.com/acacia-concinna-shikakai.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acacia_concinna

http://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Acacia+concinna

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