Monday, 21 January 2013

Saraca indica

More commonly known as Ashoka Tree or Sorrowless Tree, this tree is found throughout India and holds important cultural and religious value in India.

The Ashoka Tree is a small evergreen tree, growing up to a height of about 10m. The dark green leaves are paripinnate with around 6 to 12 oblong leaflets, growing closely to form a dense crown.

The fragrant flowers of the Ashoka Tree grow in tight clusters, its fragrance attracting butterflies, birds, and bees. They have an attractive bright orange colour, turning a beautiful vermillion colour just before wilting. The flowers have no petals but have brightly-coloured sepals and long, protruding stamens. The fruit is a leathery flat pod, containing around to to 8 oblong and compressed seeds.

The Ashoka Tree has great medicinal value whereby parts of tree used in traditional Ayruvedic medicine and homeopathic therapies. Juice obtained from boiling of bark said to be effective against female medical disorders like menstrual irregularities. Flowers are eaten against dysentery. 

It also has great cultural and religious importance is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. It is a symbol of love to Hindus and dedicated to Lord Rama. Buddhists believe Sakaymuni Buddha was born under this tree. It is commonly planted in temple compounds and flowers are used in religious offerings. Hindus believe that by drinking the water in which the flowers have lain, their children will be protected from grief. 

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