Butea monosperma (Lam.) Taub / B.frondosa
Koenig ex Roxb.
Butea Gum Tree
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.
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.
- Murti, Proc Indian Acad Sci, 12A, 477, 1940; Rao,
Ibid, 14A, 29, 1941.
- Puri, J Sci Indust Res, 12B, 462, 1953.
- Gupta, Phytochemistry, 9, 2231, 1970.
- Tandon, Proc Nat Acad Sci India sect, A32, 237, 1969.
- Seshadri, Indian J Chem, 9, 1201, 1971.
- Garg, Sci fen Anstrichmittel Die Ernahrungsindustrie,
- Prakash, IndianJ Exp Biol, 4, 246, 1966; Khanna,
Indian J Med Res, 56, 1575, 1968.
- Choudhury Bull Medethno-bot Res, 1, 420, 1980; Garg,
Indian J Exp Biol, 16, 1077, 1978; Kamboj, J
Ethnopharmacology, 6, 195, 1982.