Palash Plant - Butea Monosperma, Flame of the Forest

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Butea (Palash) is native to India and is found throughout the country. Palaash tree is also known as 'flame of the forest' because of its red colour flowers. It is a medicinal tree and its different parts are used to cure various clinical disorders. Palash is considered anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anthelmintic, antidiabetic, diuretic, analgesic, antitumor and astringent. Its leaves are astringent, diuretic and antiovulatory properties. Its flowers are tonic and nutritive. Its roots are used to treat night blindness.

The tree is native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is a slow growing tree that reaches a height of 40 to 50 feet. It has a crooked trunk and irregular branches. The leaves are 3-foliate and the flowers a bright orange red color. One can see the tree flowering in spring and in full bloom hardly any flowers are visible on the branches. From afar a cluster of trees gives the impression of fire in the forest and hence the name.

The tree is a host for the Lac insect which produces natural lacquer. In India, this tree is associated with spring and various legends and myths are associated with this tree. The tree is held sacred in South India and its wood is used in Hindu fire rituals called yagna. The flowers of this tree do not open straight and even the unopened flowers are curved like a parrot's beak.

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