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Butea monosperma back  |  home
Latin Names English Names Sanskrit Names Hindi Names
Butea monosperma (Lam.) Taub / B.frondosa Koenig ex Roxb.
Butea Gum Tree Palasa Markundi
Butea MonospermaHistory
It is a sacred tree, referred to as a treasurer of the gods, and used in sacrifice related rituals. From its wood, sacred utensils are made. The flowers are offered as in place of blood in sacrifice rituals to goddess Kali. The dry stem pieces are used to make sacred fire. It is an anthropogenic tree of several castes. 'Chakradatta' mentions the use of its gum in external astringent application. The leaves are believed to have astringent, depurate, diuretic and aphrodisiac properties. It promotes diuresis and menstrual flow. The seed is anthelmintic. The bark is also used in snakebite. When seeds are pounded with lemon juice and applied to the skin the act as a rubefacient. Arab horse dealers put one seed into each feed of corn to keep their horses in condition.

It is found in greater parts of India, Burma and Sri Lanka. It is capable of growing in water logged situations, black cotton soils, saline, alkaline, swampy badly drained soils and on barren lands except in arid regions.

Morphology Description (Habit)
It is an erect, medium sized tree of 12-15 m high, with a crooked trunk and irregular branches. The shoots are clothed with gray or brown silky pubescence. The bark is ash coloured. The leaves 3 foliate, large and stipulate. Petiole is 10-15 cm long. Leaflets are obtuse, glabrous above, finely silky and conspicuously reticulately veined beneath with cunnate or deltoid base. From January to March the plant is bald. Flowers in rigid racemes of 15 cm long, densely brown velVety on bare branches. Calyx is dark, olive green to brown in colour and densely velVety outside. The corolla is long with silky silvery hairs outside and bright orange red. Stamens are diadelphes, anthers uniform. Ovary 2 ovule, style filiform, curved and stigma capitate. Pods argenteo-canesent, narrowed, thickened at the sutures, splitting round the single apical seed, lowest part indehiscent. The seeds are flat, reniform, curved.

Principal Constituents
The main constituent of the flower is butrin (1.5%) besides butein (0.37%) and butin (0.04%). Also contains flavonoids and steroids1. Later studies proves that isobutrin slowly change to butrin on drying2.

Other than these in flowers, coreopsin, isocoreopsin, sulphurein (glycoside) and other two with monospermoside and isomonospermoside structures are also identified3s. Roots contain glucose, glycine, glucosides and aromatic compounds4. Tetramers of leucocynidin are isolated from gum and stem bark5. Seed contains oil6. The bright colour of the flower is attributed to the presence of chakones and aurones.

A fraction containing sodium salt of phenolic constituent isolated from the bark has shown potential as an anti-asthmatic agent in estrogenic activity in mice. Aqueous extract of the flowers show significant anti-implantation activity7. Hot alcoholic extract of the seeds showed significant anti-implantation and anti-ovulatory activity in roots and rabbits respectively. It also showed abortive effect in mice8. Butrin and isobutrin has proved to have antihepatotoxic activity.

The fresh juice is applied to ulcers and for congested and septic sore throats. The gum is a powerful astringent given internally for diarrhea and dysentery, phthisis and hemorrhage from stomach and the bladder, in leucorrhoa, ringworm and as a substitute for gum Kino. The bark is reported to possess astringent bitter, pungent, alliterative, aphrodisiac and anthelmintic properties. Useful in tumors, bleeding piles and ulcers. The decoction is useful in cold, cough, fever and menstrual disorders. Roots are useful in elephantiasis and in curing night blindness and other eyesight defects. Also cause temporary sterility in women. Also applied in sprue, piles, ulcers, tumors and dropsy. Leaves have astringent, tonic, diuretic and aphrodisiac properties. They are also used to cure boils, pimples and tumors hemorrhoids and piles. Also used as beedi wrappers. Flowers are reported to possess astringent, diuretic, depurative, aphrodisiac and tonic properties. They are used as emmenagogue and to reduce swellings. Also effective in leprosy, leucorrhea and gout.

  1. Murti, Proc Indian Acad Sci, 12A, 477, 1940; Rao, Ibid, 14A, 29, 1941.
  2. Puri, J Sci Indust Res, 12B, 462, 1953.
  3. Gupta, Phytochemistry, 9, 2231, 1970.
  4. Tandon, Proc Nat Acad Sci India sect, A32, 237, 1969.
  5. Seshadri, Indian J Chem, 9, 1201, 1971.
  6. Garg, Sci fen Anstrichmittel Die Ernahrungsindustrie, 43, 1971.
  7. Prakash, IndianJ Exp Biol, 4, 246, 1966; Khanna, Indian J Med Res, 56, 1575, 1968.
  8. Choudhury Bull Medethno-bot Res, 1, 420, 1980; Garg, Indian J Exp Biol, 16, 1077, 1978; Kamboj, J Ethnopharmacology, 6, 195, 1982.

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