Bakul (Mimusops elengi)


Botanical Name: Mimusops elengi
Family: Sapotaceae
Genus: Mimusops
Species: M. elengi
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales

Common Names: Spanish cherry, medlar, and Bullet wood.

Vernacular names: Maulsari in Hindi, Bakul in Sanskrit, Marathi, Bengali,Bokul in Assamese, “Tanjung” in Indonesian, “Elanji” in Malayalam, Manipuri, magizamaram and ilanji in Tamil, AND ranja “Bakula”, “Pagade Mara” “Vajradhanthi” in Kannada.

Botanical info: An evergreen tree, large in size, small white fragrant flowers, grows all over India, cultivated as ornamental and timbre tree.

Called the Mimusops elengi or the Mulsari in Hindi, this plant is found almost everywhere and belongs to the family of Sapotaceae.It is one of the most beautiful trees in India, commonly found in gardens and parks. It is also found in the Deccan Peninsula along Western Ghats from Mumbai southwards, Assam, W. Bengal, Eastern Ghats from Myanmar, Bangladesh, Andamans and Sri Lanka. The dense growth can be mostly seen in the moist forests of Western Ghats. The tribals of Orissa plant it in their backyards..

The Habitat:
Habitat :
Mimusops elengi is native to tropical forests in South Asia, Southeast Asia and northern Australia.
This plant is very commonly  found throughout India as people usually grow it in herbal gardens. It is found particularly in forests of Western Coast of India and in Andman area.

Other Species Of Bakul:
There is description of ‘Big Bakul’ in one of the famous ancient Materia medica of Ayurveda – ‘Bhavaprakasha Nighantu’. This big Bakul is actually another species with the latin name Osmanthus fragrans Linn.

The Plant:
This plant takes its own sweet time to grow. This is a medium-sized tree, adorned with a dense and beautiful crown of shiny leaves. The leaves are oval, wavy at the margin and 3-7 cm wide. The tree has a long cylindrical stem. The flowers are pale white in colour and star-shaped. They are tremendously fragrant and the tree appears in full bloom during the months of February to April. Even after the flowers dry up, their fragrance remains afresh. Fruits are yellow in colour.

Mimusops elengi is an evergreen tree reaching a height of about 16 m (52 ft). It flowers in April, and fruiting occurs in June. Leaves are glossy, dark green, oval-shaped, 5–14 cm (2.0–5.5 in) long, and 2.5–6 cm (0.98–2.36 in) wide. Flowers are cream, hairy, and scented. Bark is thick and appears dark brownish black or grayish black in colour, with striations and a few cracks on the surface. The tree may reach up to a height of 9–18 m (30–59 ft) with about 1 m (3 ft 3 in) in circumference.   The bark is dark grey in color. The wood inside the bark is hard and heavy and it is reddish grey on the outside and dark red on the inside.


Its flower is the provincial flower of Yala Province, Thailand

You may click to see the pictures
The lovely evergreen Bakula tree of the Indian subcontinent, with its small shiny , thick, narrow, pointed leaves, straight trunk and spreading branches is a prized oranamental specimen because it provides a dense shade and during the months from March to July fills the night air with the delicious heady aroma of its tiny cream colored flowers. In the morning the ethereal flowers which so graciously scented their surroundings with their deep, rich, honey notes during the evening hours, fall to the ground. People living in their proximity love to collect them as they retain their odor for many days after they fall. They are offered in temples and shrines throughout the country. Because of their ability to hold their fragrance for many days the flower has a special symbolic meaning when offered to the gods and goddesses. An offering of Bakula flowers signifies the unwavering devotion of the aspirant for the object of their devotion just as the bakul flower maintains its wonderful perfume long after it has fallen from the tree. The flowers have also inspired a popular sayiing, “true friendship lasts like the scent of maulsari(bakul)” They are equally prized for making into tiny garlands which can be woven into the hair emitting a perfume that is a delight to the wearer and to those who come in their company.

The Leaves:
Shiny, smooth and oval leaves are 2 to 4 inch long and 1 to 2 inch wide.  Pictures

The Flowers:
Yellowish, white and fragrant flowers are of one inch diameter. Flowering occurs in April and May. Pictures

According to ayurvedic tradition the flowers are acrid, astringent, cooling and anthelmintic(killing or ejecting intestinal worms). The flowers are used to prepare a lotion for wounds and ulcers. They are also powdered and consumed in various preparations as a brain tonic. This powder taken as a snuff is said to relieve cephaligia. The flowers possess expectorant properties and when smoked relieve asthma. In order to truly correlate the findings of modern science with ayurvedic texts one can do an investigation of published scientific literature to see what can be discovered there. Then one would need to do a thorough gc/mc analysis of the CO2 extract to discover what the acutual componets of the oil are.

There can be no doubt that the fragrance of the flower itself is healing in that every lovely essence tends to make us aware of the finer things of life. In a moment they take us from the mundane into the sublime and help us orient ourselve to creative aspirations. Almost every human being is positively affected by truly natural fragrances. But if we need to determine specific uses for the flower and its volatile constitents we need to turn to the traditional indigenous medical literature concerning the flower and its uses and then see if modern science has done anything to colloborate those findings. A surprising amount of research has been done already and with the current interest in wholistic medicine it is possible much more will be done. It may be that many extraordinary discoveries remain to be uncovered regarding the healing virtues of flowers and their fragrance resulting from a coupling of modern science with ancient medicine

The Fruits:
One inch long and oval fruit is green, astringent and with milk when unripe. It turns yellow and it tastes astringent and sweet. Fruition occurs in rainy season.  pictures

The fruit contains one and occasionally two oval, brown and shiny seeds.

Other Medicinal Uses:

This ayurvedic herb is a good astringent herb and is beneficial in dental problems, urinary and gynecological disorders.
The yellow fruits are edible. The tree is cultivated for the fragrant flowers that it produces. The flowers make beautiful and scented garlands. The flowers are also used in the perfume making process. The tree serves as a fantastic decorative piece when in full bloom. The wood serves as a good building material. The seeds are used to extract oil from them. The oil is used in cooking and making medicines. The unripe fruit and flowers, combined with other astringents are used in the preparation of lotions for sores and wounds. It is also used as a gargle in relaxation of gums.

A preparation made from dried and powdered flowers is used in curing a disease called Ahwa. The powdered flowers induce copious nasal discharge and relief from severe headache. The ripe fruit, powdered and mixed with water are given internally to promote childbirth.

It is the Vakula, Kesara and Sinha-kesara, “lion’s mane” of Sanskrit writers. Chakradatta mentions the astringent properties of the unripe fruit, and recommends it to be chewed for the purpose of fixing loose teeth. He also mentions a decoction of the astringent bark as a useful gargle in diseases of the gums and teeth. In the Concan a similar use is made of the unripe fruit, and the fruit and flowers along with other astringents are used to prepare a lotion for sores and wounds. MÄ«r Muhammad Husain notices the practice of planting this tree on account of its handsome appearance. He says that the unripe fruit and seeds have powerful astringent properties, and that the decoction of the bark is useful as an astringent in discharges from the mucous membrane of the bladder and urethra, and also as a gargle in relaxation of the gums, &c. He mentions the use of a snuff made from the dried and powdered flowers in a disease called Ahwa, common in Bengal. The symptoms of this disease are strong fever, headache and pain in the neck, shoulders and other parts of the body. The powdered flowers induce a copious defluxion from the nose and relieve the pain in the head. The flowers are much used by the natives on account of their perfume, which they retain when dry; pillows are sometimes stuffed with them, and they afford a distilled water. The juice of the bark and unripe fruit is used by silk dyers to fix colours. Rumphius states that the pounded leaves are applied to cure headache, that a decoction of the root is given in angina, whilst a plaster made from them is applied externally. The ripe fruit pounded and mixed with water is given to promote delivery in childbirth. (Hort. Amb. III., 17.) Horsfield (Asiat. Journ. VII. p. 262) describes the bark as an astringent tonic, and Dr. Bholanauth Bose states that a decoction of it forms a good gargle in salivation. (Pharm. of India, p. 131.)

The bakula  also produces a berrylike fruit, which turns yellow when ripe.  The pulp is given to patients suffering from stomach upsets, but the unripe berry is considered a useful masticatory, and is also used as an infusion to provide a general health tonic. The flowers, fruit, and bark of the bakula are all astringent, and they are used as elements in an Ayurvedic lotion for wounds and ulcers.  The bark, which is powdered and made into a gargle for infected mouth and gums, is one of the main ingredients in an Ayurvedic tooth powder recommended for patients with spongy gums.  Traditional remedies are: A decoction of the astringent bark or flower is taken to treat fever and diarrhea.  The leaves pounded with Nigella seeds are applied as a hot compress or burned and smoke inhaled to alleviate the discomfort of an ulceration nose. The juice of the leaves is dropped into sore eyes to treat eye ache. A decoction of the bark with tamarind bark is used as a lotion to treat skin affections. An infusion of the bark is used as a nasal wash against mucous discharge. The bark is used as a component in a poultice to treat leucorrhoea and pimples. The leaves are burned and smoke inhaled to treat asthma, affection of the nose and mouth. A decoction of the bark is gargled as a dental strengthener to fix teeth loosened. It also to treat sore throat or relaxed uvula to strengthen the gums. A tincture of the bark is employed as an embrocation to treat rheumatism and distended abdomen. A decoction of the bark is used to treat blennorrhea, sprue, gonorrhea and itch. Fruit of Bakula is made into a paste by grinding it with alcohol. It will stop menstruation, if taken during the period of menstruation.

Other Uses:

  *The edible fruit is softly hairy becoming smooth, ovoid, bright red-orange when ripe.
*The wood is a luxurious wood that is extremely hard, strong and tough, and rich deep red in color. The heart wood is sharply defined from the sapwood. It works easily and takes a beautiful polish. Weight is 1008 kg per cubic meter.

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


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One thought on “Bakul (Mimusops elengi)

  1. Rabiul Hossain

    An excellent description on my very dear flower. I love Bakul, you. You are no less the night queen../ your fragrance so sweet & loved by those who know it.
    A Bakul fan


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