Golden Shower Tree

Botanical Name:Cassia fistula
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Fabales
Tribe: Cassieae
Subtribe: Cassiinae
Genus: Cassia
Species: C. fistula
Common Names: Being so conspicuous and widely planted, this tree has a number of common names. In English, it is usually known as Golden Shower Tree or Golden Shower Cassia. Other, less unambiguous names include Indian laburnum, “golden shower” or “drumstick tree”. It is known in Spanish-speaking countries as caña fistula.

Names from its native range and surrounding regions include:

Assamese: Xonaru
Bangla: sonalu, bandar lathi
Chinese: ? bó lè (in Taiwan), là cháng shù (“sausage tree”)
Hindi: bendra lathi (or bandarlauri), dhanbaher (or dhanbohar), girimaloah
Hindi and Urdu: amalt?s
Japanese: nanban saikachi
Lao: khoun
Marathi: bahava
Malayalam: kanikkonna (or kani konna, Kerala), Vishu konna
Meitei (Manipuri): chahui
Nepali: amaltash, rajbriksya
Sanskrit: aragvadha, chaturangula, kritamala, suvarnaka
Sinhalese: aehaela-gaha (or ahalla-gass), ekela
Tamil: konrai
Thai: chaiyaphruek, dok khuen, khun, koun, rachapruek

Habitat :Native to southern Asia, from southern Pakistan east through India to Myanmar and south to Sri Lanka.

Description:
It is a medium-sized tree growing to 10-20 m tall with fast growth. The leaves are deciduous or semi-evergreen, 15-60 cm long, pinnate with 3-8 pairs of leaflets, each leaflet 7-21 cm long and 4-9 cm broad. The flowers are produced in pendulous racemes 20-40 cm long, each flower 4-7 cm diameter with five yellow petals of equal size and shape. The fruit is a legume is 30-60 cm long and 1.5-2.5 cm broad, with a pungent odour and containing several seeds. The seeds are poisonous.

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Cultivation and uses:
Cassia fistula is widely grown as an ornamental plant in tropical and subtropical areas. It blooms in late spring (May on the northern, November on the southern hemisphere); flowering is profuse, with trees being covered with yellow flora, with almost no leaf being seen. Not recommended for dry climates. Growth is best in full sun on well-drained soil; it is drought and salt tolerant, but will be damaged by even short spells of freezing weather. It can be subject to mildew, leaf spot and root diseases.

The golden shower tree is the national flower of Thailand; its yellow leaves symbolize Thai royalty. A 2006-2007 flower festival, the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek, was named after the tree, which is most often called dok khuen or ratchaphruek in Thailand.

The golden shower tree is the state flower of Kerala in India. The flowers are of ritual importance in the Vishu festival of Kerala state of India, and the tree was depicted on a 20 Indian rupees stamp. C. fistula is also featured on a 2003 joint Canadian-Thai design for a 48 cent stamp, part of a series featuring national emblems.

Medicinal Uses:
In Ayurvedic medicine, Golden Shower Tree is known as aragvadha (“disease killer”). Its fruitpulp is used as mild laxative, against fevers, arthritis, vatavyadhi (nervous system diseases), all kinds of rakta-pitta (bleeding, such as hematemesis or hemorrhages), as well as cardiac conditions and stomach problems such as acid reflux. The root is considered a very strong purgative, and self-medication or any use without medical supervision is strongly advised against in Ayurvedic texts.

In Ayurvedic medicine systems, the seeds are recognised as antibilious, aperitif, carminative, and laxative while the root is used for curing adenopathy, burning sensations, leprosy, skin diseases, syphilis, and tubercular glands.

The leaves of the tree is used for erysipelas, malaria, rheumatism, and ulcers, the buds are used for biliousness, constipation, fever, leprosy, and skin disease and the fruit for abdominal pain, constipation, fever, heart disease, and leprosy. Thus every part of this plant is recognized for its medicinal properties.

Today Cassia fistula is still used in folk medicines to treat tumors of the abdomen, glands, liver, stomach and throat, and other cancers. It is also used for skin diseases, leprosy, syphilis, malaria, rheumatism, ulcers, abdominal pain, constipation, fever, and heart disease. The leaves are used to treat inflammations chest complaints, eye ailments, flu, heart and liver ailments, and rheumatism. The juice is used to relieve ringworm and blisters caused by poison ivy. The pulp is used to combat anthrax, blood poisoning, backwater fever, dysentery, and malaria.

Though its use in herbalism is attested to since millennia, there has been rather little research in modern times. While the purgative action is probably due to abundant 1,8-dihydroxyanthraquinone and derivates thereof, whether the reputed nervous system (anti-vatavyadhi) effects are real and if, what causes them, is not known. While many Fabaceae are a source of potent entheogens and other psychoactive compounds (see e.g. tryptamines), such plants are rarely found among the Caesalpinioideae.

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.

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassia_Fistula

http://www.india-shopping.net/india-ayurveda-products/Cassiafistula-amaltas.htm

http://www.herbalremedies.com/cassiafistula-information.html

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