Herbs & Plants

Bombax ceiba (Shimul in Bengali)

Botanical Name : Bombax ceiba
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Bombax
Species: B. ceiba
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malvales

Synonyms: Salmalia malabarica

Common Nams:  cotton tree, Red Silk-Cotton, Red Cotton Tree  or ambiguously as silk-cotton or kapok, both of which may also refer to Ceiba pentandra.

This tree is commonly known as semal (Hindi) or shimul (Bengali) in India.  The local Urdu and Punjabi name for the tree is sumbal.

Habitat:  Bombax ceiba is native to India, tropical southern Asia, northern Australia and tropical Africa.

Bombax ceiba grows to an average of 20 meters, with old trees up to 60 meters in wet tropical weather. The trunk and limb bear numerous conical spines particularly when young, but get eroded when older. The leaves are palmate with about 6 leaflets radiating from a central point, an average of 7~10 centimeters wide, 13~15 centimeters in length. The leaf’s long flexible petiole is up to 20 cm long.
Cup-shaped flowers solitary or clustered, axillary or sub-terminal, fascicles at or near the ends of the branches, when the tree is bare of leaves, an average of 7~11 centimeters wide, 14 centimeters in width, petels up to 12 centimeters in length, calyx is cup-shaped usually 3 lobed, an average of 3~5 centimeters in diameter. Staminal tube is short, more than 60 in 5 bundles. stigma is light red, up to nine centimeters in length, ovary is pink, 1.5~2 centimeters in length, with the skin of the ovary covered in white silky hair at 1mm long. Seeds are numerous, long, ovoid, black or gray in colour and packed in white cotton. Fruiting can start as early as March. The fruit, which reaches an average of 13 centimeters in length, is light-green in color  immature fruits, brown in mature fruits.

The cotton fibers of this tree can be seen floating in the wind around the time of early May. This tree shows two marked growth sprints in India: in spring and during the monsoon months.

Edible Uses: The dry cores of the Bombax ceiba flower are an essential ingredient of the nam ngiao spicy noodle soup of the cuisine of Shan State and Northern Thailand, as well as the kaeng khae curry. At the peak of its flowering season in Hong Kong, elderly people could often be found picking flowers off the ground to dry, which is used to make a type of tea.

Chemical constituents :
All parts of the plant gave betasitosterol and its glucosides; seeds, bark and root bark, lupeol; flowers, hentriacontane, hentriacontanol; root bark, in addition, gave -hydroxycadalene. The seed oil yields arachidic, linoleic, myristic, oleic and palmitic acids; seeds contain carotenes, n-hexacosanol, ethylgallate and tocopherols; the gum contains gallic and tannic acids, yields L-arbinose, D-galactose, D-galacturonic acid and D-galactopyranose. Younger roots contain more sugars (arabinose and galactose  and peptic substances than the older ones. They contain mucilage, starch, mineralmatter, tannins  and non-tannins, along with other constituents. [Indian Medicinal Plants An Illustrated Dictionary

Medicinal Uses:
Bombax ceiba or shimul  has various uses in medicine.(Astringent, demulcent, diuretic,aphrodisiac, emetic):-
Ayurvedic uses: Raktapitta, Vrana, Daha.

Unani uses: Jaryan, Auram

To increase the potency of a man – seedling roots of Bombax ceiba L. (salamali) to chew. To treat the nocturnal pollution [The nocturnal pollutions are, in fact, involuntary loss of  semen during sleep. Most often, pollutions occur during the so-called “wet dreams” or erotic dreams] consume the flowers of Bombax ceiba L. (salmali). Rural folk of Assam use leaf to treat infertility; Santals find seedling spermatorrhoea.

Garhwalis and tribes of Dahanu forest use root to treat impotency. The roots are used in dysentery. The gum is useful in dysentery, haemoptysis of pulmonary tuberculosis, burning sensation. The bark is used for healing wounds. Leaves are good for skin eruption. Flowers are good for skin troubles. [Herbal Cures: Traditional Approach]

Young root tips are dried in shade and cooked as a vegetable for patients suffering from impotency. This vegetable is considered to be as good as the leaves of Adansonia digitata to increase the amount of sperm in semen. A half-cup extract of bark and flowers is taken for 3 d to treat sexual diseases such as hydrocele, leucorrhoea and gonorrhoea and to treat an irregular menstrual cycle. [Herbal Drugs: Ethnomedicine to Modern Medicine

Young roots (Semulmusali)— astringent, (used for dysentery) stimulant, demulcent. Fruits—stimulant, diuretic, expectorant. Used for chronic inflammation of bladder, kidney also for calculus affections. Flowers— astringent and cooling, applied to cutaneous affections. Leaves— anti-inflammatory. Stem bark— demulcent, styptic. Aqueous extract with curd is given for blooddysentery. Bark—paste is applied to skin eruptions, boils, acne, pimples. Seeds used for chickenpox, smallpox, catarrhal affections, chronic cystitis and genitourinary diseases. Gum—astringent, demulcent, styptic. Used for diarrhoea, dysentery, haemoptysis, bleeding piles, menorrhagia, spermatorrhoea. Root and pod—used for the treatment of low vitality and debility.

Various parts of the plant are used in fever, smallpox, rheumatism and leprosy. Bark is demulcent and tonic and is used in menorrhagia, leucorrhoea, diarrhoea, dysentery, boils, acne, pimples and coughs. Roots have stimulant, tonic and aphrodisiac properties and are given in impotency. Roots and barks are emetics. Young fruits are stimulant, expectorant and diuretic and beneficial in calculous affections, chronic inflammation and ulceration of bladder and kidneys. Seed extract is used as oxytocic and gonorrhea. burned infections, dysentery and urinary problems.

Other Uses:
This tree is planted on road side for beautification. The phenomenon paints the whole landscape in an enchanting red hue.

The fruit, the size of a ping-pong ball. These are full of cotton-like fibrous stuff. It is for the fiber that villagers gather the semul fruit and extract the cotton substance called “kopak”. This substance is used for filling economically priced pillows, quilts, sofas etc. The fruit is cooked and eaten and also pickled. Semul is quite a fast growing tree and can attain a girth of 2 to 3 m, and height about 30 m, in nearly 50 years or so. Its wood, when sawn fresh, is white in color. However, with exposure and passage of time it grows darkish gray. It is as light as 10 to 12 kg, per cubic foot. It is easy to work but not durable anywhere other than under water. So it is popular for construction work, but is very good and prized for manufacture of plywood, match boxes and sticks, scabbards, patterns, moulds, etc. Also for making canoes and light duty boats and or other structures required under water. Bombax species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the leaf-miner Bucculatrix crateracma which feeds exclusively on Bombax ceiba.

The flowers are very attractive to local wildlife, with many birds like the Japanese White-eye, a type of fruit eating bird, which often draws a hole in an unopened Bombax ceiba flower bud. Honey bees, and bumble bees also attracted to the flowers to collect pollen and nectar. Because the flowers attract many insects, Crab Spiders can be occasionally found on a fully opened flower, hunting bees.

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.


Herbs & Plants

Baobab(Adansonia digitata)

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Botanical Name : Adansonia digitata
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Adansonia
Species: A. digitata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malvales

Common Name :Baobab

Common Vernacular names:
Adansonia digitata is known by many common names, the most common of which is baobab. It is also known as the dead-rat tree (from the appearance of the fruits), monkey-bread tree (the soft, dry fruit is edible), upside-down tree (the sparse branches resemble roots) and cream of tartar tree. In French, it is known as calebassier du Sénégal and arbre de mille ans; in Portuguese as molambeira, imbondeiro, calabaceira and cabacevre; and in Swahili as mbuyu, mkuu hapingwa, mkuu hafungwa and muuyu.

It is called momret in the Tigrigna language of Ethiopia, where it favors lowland areas with moist and well-drained soils, such as the valley of the Tekeze River lowlands, and “kuka” by the Hausa speaking people of West Africa. In Nigeria, it is a very popular tree in the savannahs of the north and its leaves are used to prepare local soup called “miyan kuka”. In Sudan, the tree is called “tabaldi” and its fruit is called “gongu laze”.

Habitat :Adansonia digitata, the baobab, is the most widespread of the Adansonia species on the African continent, found in the hot, dry savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa. It also grows, having spread secondary to cultivation, in populated areas. The northern limit of its distribution in Africa is associated with rainfall patterns; only on the Atlantic coast and in the Sudan does its occurrence venture naturally into the Sahel. On the Atlantic coast this may be due to spreading after cultivation. Its occurrence is very limited in Central Africa and it is found only in the very north of Southern Africa. In Eastern Africa the trees grow also in shrublands and on the coast. In Angola and Namibia the baobabs grow in woodlands, and in coastal regions, in addition to savannahs. Also found in Dhofar region of Oman and Yemen in the Arabian Peninsula, Asia. This tree is also found in India, particularly in the dry regions of the country

The trees usually grow as solitary individuals, and are large and distinctive trees on the savannah, in the scrub, and near settled areas, with some large individuals living to well over a thousand years of age. The tree bears very large, heavy white flowers. The showy flowers are pendulous with a very large number of stamens. They carry a carrion scent and researchers have shown that they appear to be primarily pollinated by fruit bats of the subfamily Pteropodinae. The fruits are filled with pulp that dries, hardens, and falls to pieces which look like chunks of powdery, dry bread.

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The African baobab‘s fruit is 6 to 8 inches or 15 to 20 centimetres long. It contains 50% more calcium than spinach, is high in anti-oxidants, and has three times the vitamin C of an orange. It is sometimes called a superfruit. The leaves can be eaten as relish, while the fruit dissolved in milk or water can be used as a drink. The seeds also produce edible oil.

In 2008, the European Union approved the use and consumption of baobab fruit as an ingredient in smoothies and cereal bars.

The United States Food and Drug Administration granted generally recognized as safe status to baobab dried fruit pulp as a food ingredient in 2009.


It’s large green or brownish fruits resemble gourd-like capsules that are around 6-8 inches in length. These capsules contain a soft whitish fruit pulp that has the appearance of powdery bread and kidney shaped seeds.

To grow A. digitata from a seed, cutting into the thick seed coat greatly speeds up germination, from months or years to seven days.

The specific epithet digitata refers to the fingers of a hand, which the five leaflets (typically) in each cluster bring to mind.

Edible Uses:
The baobab is a traditional food plant in Africa, but is little-known elsewhere. It has been suggested that the vegetable has the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development, and support sustainable land care

The fruit can be up to 25 centimetres (10 in) long and is used to make a drink

Medicinal Uses:
The bark of this tree has been used traditionally to fight fevers.  The leaves may be an excellent source of mineral salts, especially calcium, phosphor and iron, amino acids and provitamin A. There are aspects of considerable interest which require further trials on man, in order to confirm the properties extolled by traditional medicine.  Baobab products do not pretend to be a miraculous panacea, but can simply contribute to rebalancing and restoring the main functions of the organism and the epidermis, offering well-being and energy. Only 5 g a day are beneficial to maintain the state of well-being of the organism, since it increases the resistance to viruses (such as flu and herpes), regularizes the intestine, glycemia and the blood cholesterol values, gives strength, energy and resistance, rebalances mood swings, alleviates menstrual pains, and is anti-anemic, febrifugal and anti-inflammatory. Its beneficial properties may also be applied to obtain a healthy skin and to tackle the effects of premature ageing by virtue of the antioxidant, softening, smoothing and elasticizing properties.

The bark, which contains several flavonols, has been sold commercially in Europe under the name ‘cortex cael cedra’, as a fever treatment, and substitute for cinchona bark.

The off-white, powdery substance inside the fruit shell is apparently rich in ascorbic acid. It is this white powdery substance which is soaked in water to provide a refreshing drink somewhat reminiscent of lemonade. This drink is also used to treat fevers and other complaints.

Medicinally, it has many applications. The pulp is consumed to treat fever, diarrhea, malaria, hemoptysis and scorbutic complaints (vitamin C deficiency). The bark and leaves are also useful in the treatment of fever, and are reported to have anti-inflammatory and diaphoretic properties. The seed is either pulped and applied externally, or drink in water, to cure gastric, kidney and joint diseases. In the Kalahari, San bushmen use the seeds as an antidote to Strophanthin, a common plant-derived arrow poison.

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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