Bombax ceiba Linn. (Bombacaceae) /
B.malabaricum DC., Salmalia malabarica, Gossampinus
Silk Cotton Tree
Semul or Simul
TIn 'Mahabharata' it is related to 'Pitamaha' after
having created the world, reposed under the tree 'Salmali'.
In the 'Yajnavalkya' it is mentioned as one of the trees of
the infernal regions. Roots of very young tree have
astringent, aphrodisiac and alterative properties. In
Holland, the gum is used as an astringent. In Madras, the
young fruits are dried and used as a demulcent and
astringent. Also the gum is used in diarrhea and dysentery.
|It is found in India, Burma and
Sri Lanka. It grows throughout the hotter parts of India,
Eastern Himalayas and is abundant in Assam, Andaman and West
Morphology Description (Habit)
A large sized tall, deciduous tree having straight,
buttressed trunk with a clear bole and widespread branches.
The trunk and branch bark is gray in colour having hard,
sharp and conical prickles. Leaves are large, deciduous,
digitate and glabrous. Leaflets 3-9, entire, lanceolate or
oval, cuspidate and tip is acute. Petiole is long (up to 20
cm), petiolules 1,2-2.5 cm long, and stipules small and
caducous. Flowers solitary or clustered, axillary or
sub-terminal, fascicles at or near the ends of the branches,
when the tree is bare of leaves. Calyx is cup-shaped usually
3 lobed. Corolla red or white, petals 5, oblong, recurved,
fleshy, tomentose on the out side and sparingly pubescent
inner. Staminal tube is short, more than 60 in 5 bundles.
Ovary conical, glabrous, stigma 5, capsule ovoid, 5 valued
dehiscing by 5 leathery, woody valves and lined with white
silky hairs. Seeds are numerous, long, ovoid, black or gray
in colour and packed in white cotton.
Preliminary tests show the presence of glycosides and
tannins from root, stem and leaf. In the stem some alkaloids
and in root proteins are identified1. The stem
bark contains lupeol and b-sitostrol2 The root
bark has 3 naphthalene derivatives related to gossypol
(toxic principle of cotton seed) and called as
'semigossypol'3. Flowers contain b-sitosterol,
traces of essential oil, kaempherol and quercetin4.
On hydrolysis gum yield arabinose, galactose, galacturonic
acid and rhamnose.
Aqueous extract has moderate oxytoxic activity on gravid and
non-gravid isolated rat uteri and guinea pig and rabbit
uterine strips. It has musculotrapic action in guinea pig
ileum and cardiac stimulant action on frog's heart5.
It has a negligible blood-pressure elevating action in
No adverse effect is reported on use of the plant as a drug.
The gum has aphrodisiac, astringent, demulcent, haemoptysis
of pulmonary tuberculosis and influenza, malaena and
menorrhagia and acute dysentery with beneficial results.
Flowers are used for haemorrhoids. Root has stimulant, tonic
and aphrodisiac properties.
- Mehra, Indian J Pharm, 30, 284, 1968.
- Mukherjee, J Indian Chem Soc, 48, 789, 1971.
- Seshadri, Curr Sci, 40,630, 1971; Indian J Chem, 11,
- Harish Gopal, J Pharm Sci, 61, 807, 1972.
- Misra, Indian J Pharm, 30, 165, 1968.
- Misra, Indian J Physiol & Pharmacol, 10, 59, 1966.