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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bombax ceiba or the Semal Tree

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Semal Tree as it is known in Hindi is taxonomically known as Bombax ceiba belonging to family Bombacaceae of the class Magnoliopsida. In Ayurveda its genus is known as Shalmali.In English it is known as Red Silk Cotton Tree and in Hindi it is known as Semal or Semul. Its names in different Indian languages are -

                   I.            Kannada : Burugadamara
                II.            Malayalam : llavu, Elavu, Pulamaram
             III.            Sanskrit : Salmali, Moca
             IV.            Tamil : Llavu, Mullilavu
                V.            Telugu : Mulluburugacetu, 

Semal grows in warm climatic conditions across the world and in India it is found in the whole country.

Morphological Features
A tall deciduous tree with a straight buttressed trunk having a clear bole of 24-30 m and spreading branches, bark grey or brown covered with hard, sharp, conical prickles; leaves large, spreading, glabrous, digitate, leaflets lanceolate, 3-7, entire; flowers red, numerous, appearing when the tree is bare of leaves, stamens many arranged in five bundles of 9-12 each and an inner bundle of 15; fruits capsules, dehiscing by 5 leathery, or woody valves; seeds smooth, black or grey embedded in long white wool. A gummy exudates obtained from the bark is dried and sold as 'semul-gum'or 'mocharas'. Tlie''dried gum is light brown in color resembling the galls, and gradually becomes opaque and dark brown. 


Image 1 : The majestic tree of Bombax ceiba 

Image 2 : A portion enlarged

Image 3-  Flowers of Bombax ceiba fall in a large number to form a mat on the ground

Image 4 - A single flower on the ground

Chemicals found in Semal 
Seeds of this tree contain stable oils. It also contains 8 to 9 % minerals and catecol tannin. It also contains tannic acid and Gallic acid. It contains starch 71.2 %, glucose 8.2 %, proteins 1.2 %, fatty acids and cellulose. 

It is generally used in vata and pitta disorders. It helps in relieving from burning sensation after burns also does not leave the mark. It is also used to make teeth and gums strong. It also is used in improving skin texture. It is also used in conditions like dysentery and diarrhea. It also improves digestion. It helps in preventing hemorrhages. It is widely used in cough and cold. It is a good aphrodisiac agent. It also resolves female urino-genital tract problems. It is used in general body weakness. 

Ayurvedic Properties
Guna – laghu or light, snigdh or slimy
Rasa – Kashya or astringent, Madhur or sweet
Virya or Potency – Sheet or cold
No toxic effect was seen on human body with its consumption. 

Useful Parts
Root, flowers, fruit and extracts 

(ii).Skin related ailments
(iv). Burning sensation
(vii).Urine related disorders
(viii). Increases sperm count
(ix).Kidneys disorders
(x).General body weakness
(xi).Female urino -genital tract ailments. 

Medicinal and Ethnoherbological Properties
The roots are sweet, cooling, stimulant, tonic and demulcent, and are used in dysentery. The gum is astringent, cooling, stimulant, aphrodisiac, tonic, styptic and demulcent. It is useful in dysentery, haemoptysis of pulmonary tuberculosis, influenza, and menorrhagia, burning sensation, strangury, hemorrhoids, blood impurities and vitiated conditions of pitta. The bark is mucilaginous, demulcent and emetic, and is used for fomenting and healing wounds. A paste of it is good for skin eruptions. Leaves are good for strangury and skin eruptions. Flowers are astringent and are good for skin troubles, splenomegaly and hemorrhoids. Young fruits are useful in calculus affections, chronic inflammations and ulceration of the bladder and kidney. Seeds are useful in treating gonorrhea, chronic cystitis and vitiated conditions of kapha.
Here are some very important lines Guru Granth Sahib, the Great Sikh Scriptural Enlightener-“The Semal tree is straight as an arrow; it is very tall, and very thick. But those birds which visit it hopefully depart disappointed. Its fruits are tasteless, its flowers are nauseating, and its leaves are useless. Sweetness and humility, O Nanak, are the essence of virtue and goodness. Everyone bows down to himself; no one bows down to another. When something is placed on the balancing scale and weighed, the side which descends is heavier. The sinner, like the deer hunter, bows down twice as much. But what can be achieved by bowing the head, when the heart is impure?”

Key Words :  Bombax ceiba,warm climatic conditions, Guru Granth Sahib, Sikh Scripture

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