Palas(Butea) Or Flame of the forest

Botanical Name : Butea monosperma
English Name : Flame of the forest
Hindi Name
: Palash, Dhak
Sanskrit Name : Palash

Scientific name: Butea monosperma, Butea frondosa
Family: Faboideae / Leguminosae / Papilionaceae
Common names: Flame of the Forest, Dhak, Palas, Bastard Teak, Parrot Tree, Dhak or Palas (Hindi); Porasum (Tamil) ; Khakda (Gujerati).

Other names::Butea monosperma, Butea frondosa, Erythrina monosperma
Flame of the Forest, Dhak, Bastard Teak, Parrot Tree.

Trade names Palasha, Dhak.

Butea Monosperma is a tree of Fabaceae plant family. This is a small tree. The leaves are three foliate. Leaflets are coriaceous and round. The flowers bloom in February to March. The flowers are in big racemes and bright orange red in color. The petals are silky and hairy.
East Indian tree bearing a profusion of intense vermilion velvet-textured blooms and yielding a yellow dye.

The Flame of the Forest is a medium sized tree, growing from 20 to 4O feet high, and the trunk is usually crooked and twisted with irregular branches and rough, grey bark. It is seen in all its ugliness in December and January when most of the leaves fall: but from January to March it truly becomes a tree of flame, a riot of orange and vermilion flowers covering the entire crown. These flowers, which are scentless, are massed along the ends of the stalks  dark velvety green like the cup-shaped calices  and the brilliance of the stiff, bright flowers is shown off to perfection by this deep, contrasting color. Each flower consists of five petals comprising one standard, two smaller wings and a very curved beak-shaped keel. It is this keel which gives it the name of Parrot Tree. The back-curving petals are covered with fine, silky hair, which, seen at certain angles, change the deep orange to a silvery salmon-pink. The buds too, have this downy growth and acquire a beautiful mauvish bloom.

CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES..>..(01)....(1)...(2)..…...(3).….…….

Twisted trunk habit………..PICTURE

The leaves, which appear in April and May, are 10-18″ wide and trifoliate. When fresh they are like soft suede ; thick, velvety and a beautiful pale, bronze green. Old leaves are as firm and tough as leather, smooth above and hairy below. This silky down gives them a silvery appearance from a distance.

The pods, when young, are pale green, are covered with a dense growth of fine hair and sometimes give the effect of a tree in full leaf. They are pendulous and 3 to 4 inches long. When ripe they become yellow-brown and contain flat, brown seeds.

That the flowers contain much nectar is evidenced by the frequent visits of many species of birds; sunbirds, mynahs and babblers are usually to be seen, hurrying from flower to flower, chattering and twittering. With man, also, the tree is very popular, having numerous uses. From an infusion of the flowers a brilliant colouring matter can be obtained, which may be made into water-paint or into a dye. Cotton, prepared with alum, can be dyed a bright yellow or orange.

From the seeds a clear oil is obtained and the gum which exudes from the stems, known as Bengal Kino, is valuable to druggists because of its astringent qualities, and to leather workers because of its tannin. Young roots make a strong fibre which has many uses, the making of rope sandals being one of the most important. Roots, eaten raw, cause giddiness, but, baked, are eaten by Mundari children. The leaves, because of their strength, are sewn together by poor people to make plates and the lovely flowers are popular with all Indian women for adornment of their hair.

The Palas is sacred to the moon and is said to have sprung from the feather of a falcon impregnated with the Soma, the beverage of the Gods, and thus immortalised. It is used in Hindu cremonies for the blessing of calves to ensure their becoming good milkers. When a Brahmin boy becomes a Sadhu, his head is shaved and he is given a Palas leaf to eat—the trifoliate formation representing Vishnu in the middle, Brahma on the left and Shiva on the right.

A rare yellow varity of the Flame of the Forest is sometimes found in India.
Butea Frondosa is named after the Earl of Bute, a patron of Botany and Frondosa, meaning “leafy”. It is a native of India but is not found in the dryest parts, being most common in Central India and the Western Ghats.


The Palas is known for much more than its flowers . The powdered flower is used as “gulal” in Holi, the flowers produce a dye which Buddhist monks used to dye their robes, the tree is a host tree for the lac insect and the resinous exudation of the insect gives us shellac/lac with its numerous uses such as polishing and finishing furniture. The most surprising use of lac is as confectioner’s glaze. These glazes are used across the industry including glazing of chocolate covered and sugar coated peanuts & raisins.

Traditional use: KHASI and GARO : Leaf: in delirium; TRIBES OF PURULIATRIBES OF MA YURBHANJA (Orissa) : Seed: (West Bengal) : Seed: in ascaris; as contraceptive; TRIBES OF SANTAL PARGANAS (Bihar) : Root: in tuberculosis; TRIBES OF VARANASI (Uttar Pradesh) : Leaf: in boils; Seed: as vermifuge; TRIBES OF MIRZAPUR (Uttar Pradesh) : Bark: in dysentery; Gum: in diarrhoea, dysentery; TRIBES OF SIWALIK (Uttar Pradesh) : Gum: as tonic; BHAT: Seed: as abortifacient; BHOXA: Bark: in bone fracture, Gum: in piles, urinary complaints; GARHWALI: Leaf: in boil, inflammation, Flower: in diarrhoea, dysentery, pimples, Seed: as anthelmintic; THARU: Gum: as diuretic, Seed: as cooling agent; FOLKS OF DELHI: Gum: as astringent, Flower: as aphrodisiac, astringent, diuretic, Seed: as anthelmintic;Â Â Â FOLKS OF KURUKSHETRA (Haryana): Flower: in stomachache; DANG: Bark: in diarrhoea; TRIBESOFRATANMAHAL HILLS (Gujarat) : Flower: in eye complaints; KORKU (of Maharashtra): Flower, in dysentery; TRIBES OF KHANDLA (Maharashtra) : Flower: in dog bite, urinary complaints; TRIBES OF CHANDRAPURA (Maharashtra) : Leaf: in skin diseases; TRIBES OF JHABUA (Madhya Pradesh) : Root: in dog bite; TRIBES OF SAGAR (Madhya Pradesh): Leaf: as vermifuge, Flower: in diabetes, diarrhoea, piles; TRIBES OF EAST GODAVARI (Andhra Pradesh) : Gum: in diarrhoea; TRIBES OF NILGIRI (Tamil Nadu) : Bark: as haemostatic, in wounds, Flower: in eye complaints; TRIBES OF KANNANORE (Kerala): Flower: in antifertility.

: Extract of stem: beneficial for sperms and helps securing conception; CHARAKA SAMHITA : Stem-extract: useful in leprosy, piles, gastroenteritis and menorrha­gia; SUSHRUTA SAMHITA : useful in diseases caused by vayu (wind), Seed: effective against intestinal worms; A YURVEDA : Bark: useful against snake venom, wounds, indigestion, gastroenteritis, fever, tuberculosis, Gum: astringent, beneficial to children and women, Leaf: astringent, sex stimulant, useful in intestinal worms, dyspepsia, piles, menorrhagia, pimples, wounds in mouth/throat, Flower: diuretic, sex stimulant, helps menstruation, useful in gastroenteritis, Seed: useful against intestinal worms.

SIDDHA : Flower-juice: used in preparation of the medicine Murukkam, Seed and Kernel: in Palac

UNANI: Ingredient of the medicine called ‘Dhak(tesu)’ and ‘Samaghke Dhak’.
Chemical contents: Plant: flavonoids, glucosides, butin, butrin, isobutrin, palastrin; Flower: butrin, coriopsin, monospermoside, sulphurein, chalcones; Seed: palasonin, Seed oil: d-Iactone of n-heneicosanoic acid, monospermine, new phytolectin.
Medicinal Usage:    The gum obtained from the tree is astringent and it is used for diarrhea in addition, dysentery. The extracts from the root is used for treating eye-diseases. The leaves are aphrodisiac. In Ayurveda palas leaves have several medicinal properities and uses for different women manstrual problems.

Modern use: Plant  :  alcoholic extract: produces persistent vasodepression in cats, shows activity against earthworms; Bark: insecticide against house flies; Alcohol extract of bark : inhibitory against E. coli and Micrococcus pyogenes var. aureus; Gum: solution applied to check conception; Root (bark) : aphrodisiac, analgesic, anthelmintic, useful in elephan­tiasis, applied in sprue, piles, ulcers, tumours and dropsy; EtOH (50%) extract of leaf: spasmogenic; FlolYer: effective in leprosy, gout; Alcoholic extract: antiestrogenic in mice; Aqueous extract: anti-implantation in rats; along with Hygrophila auriculata leaf and root taken with milk to cure leucorrhoea; Seed (freshly powdered) : effective against Ascaris; Extract (in vitro) : anthelmintic against Asacridia galli worms; finely powdered along with Acorus calamus rhizome or mixed with juice of Cyperus rotundus rhizome: cures delirium; Saline extract: agglutinates erythrocytes of animals; Hot alcoholic extract: anti-implantation and anti-ovulatory in animals.

Remarks: An important tree for lac cultivation, but the lac produced on it is of inferior quality. Bark yields fibre, wood yields timber of poor quality; stem-bark used as fish poison by tribes of South Rajasthan. Plates and bowls are made by stitching the leaves by the tribes of Purulia and Saurashtra. Flowers yield a yellow dye of little permanency.

Flowers are eaten as vegetables by tribes of Manbhum and Hazaribagh Districts of Bihar while fruits by Garhwalis.

Tree is sacred to the Hindus and Buddhists. Flower is an essential item of Saraswati Puja.

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


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