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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fruits of Shami, the Prosopis cineraria

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Shami as reported elsewhere in this site is variously named in different regions of the world. In the United Arab Emirates it is called as Ghaf; in Indian states for example Rajasthan it is known as Khejri, Jand, Janti and Sangri; in Punjab is known as Jand; in Sindh it is known as Kandi, in Karnataka it is known as Banni, in Tamilnadu it is known as Vanni; and in Gujarat it is known as Sami and Sumri. In Sanskrit it is known as Shami, Sankhphala, Keshahantri, Sivaphala, Mangalya, and Papanasini. It is taxonomically known as Prosopis cineraria L. syn. P. spicigera. It is one out of 44 species in the genus Prosopis.

Yellow green flowers are borne on 5 to 23 cm long spike like racemes. On maturity they become attractively bright yellow and usually 0.6 cm broad. After pollination flowers produce specialized fruits in clusters.

Fruits of Shami are pods containing up to 25 dull brown seeds, 0.3 to 0.8 cm long. Pods are light green-yellow in colour. They grow up to 8 to 19 cm. These are locally called as Sangar or Sangri in Rajasthan. The dried pods are locally called as Kho –Kha. These are eaten by the poor people. Dried pods form rich animal feed and are liked by all animals. Humans eat Shami fruits in boiled form when these are young and soft. These are also used as famine food and are reported to be known by even the pre-historic men.

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Chemical compounds found in Shami- the Prosopis cineraria and Medicinal properties
The stem bark contains vitamin K, n-octacosyl acetate, the long chain aliphatic acid. Presence of glucose, rhamnose, sucrose and starch is also reported. A cytotoxic principle, patulibin, has been isolated from flowers.

Shami has been reported to contain Piperidin alkaloids, Juliflorinine and N-methyjulifloridine, Julifloricene, and Julifloricene. These compounds show significant anti-fungal activities against dermatophytes.

The alkaloids found in the Shami extract showed broad spectrum anti- bacterial activity against both Gram-positive and Gram – negative bacteria comparable to Penicillin, Streptomycin, Ampicilline, Sulphamethoxazole, and Tetracyclin. The fruits yield a Flavoneglycoside Patulitrin which exhibit cytotoxic activity.

Numerous bioactive compounds found in Shami as reported by Sharma, Garg and Paul(2010) and  by various other  researchers from time to time are – Flavonoides, diketones,Phenolic content, free amino acids, Patulitrin, specigerine, prosogerine- A,B,C,D, lipids, sugars and vitamins. Dried pods of the plant if administered in proper doses help in preventing Protein Calorie Malnutrition. It is also reported that flowers of Shami when mixed with sugar and administered orally prevent miscarriage.A paste of flowers along with twig also act as anti-diabetic agents when administered orally. 

The ash or Bhasm of Shami fruit and other parts is used to control the effects of Shani, as per the Hindu mythology and some astrologers. It is reported that if the Saturn is well places in the horoscope of a person, it leads to discipline in life, responsibility, humbleness etc. One, who uses Shami Bhasm regularly, has a long life. He remains charitable and proficient in every work. In case the Saturn is not placed well in the horoscope of a person, it is reported that the individual suffers from depression, anxiety, fear, loneliness and disorders of nervous system.

Sharma AK. Diabetes mellitus and its complications: An update,1ed. Macmillan India Ltd, New Delhi: Sharma AK (ed), 1993: pp92-205.
Maritim AC, Sanders RA, Watkins JB III. Diabetes, oxidative stress and antioxidants: a review. J Biochem Mol Toxicol 2003; 17: 24-38.
Murthy PS. Medicinal plants in diabetes treatment. Ind J Clin Biochem 1995; 10: 52–3.
Mahoney, D. 1990. Trees of Somalia - A field guide for development workers. Oxfam/HDRA, Oxford. p. 133-136.
Burkart, A. 1976. A monograph of the genus Prosopis (Leguminosae, subfam. Mimosoideae). J. Am. Ath. 57(3/4): 219-249; 450-525.
F'FN. 1991. Spotlight on species: P. cineraria Farm Forestry News, Vol. 4, No. 3.
Gates, P.J. and K. Brown. 1988. Acacia tortilis and Prosopis cineraria:  Leguminous trees for and areas. Outlook on Agriculture 17:61-64.

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