An Eco-sustainable World
ArborealSpecies Plant

Oroxylum indicum

Oroxylum indicum

Bignonia indica (Oroxylum indicum (L.) Benth. ex Kurz, 1877) is an arboreal species belonging to the family of

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to.
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Subkingdom Tracheobionta,
Spermatophyta Superdivision,
Division Magnoliophyta,
Class Magnoliopsida,
Subclass Asteridae,
Order Scrophulariales,
Family Bignoniaceae,
Tribe Oroxyleae,
Oroxylum species,
Species O. indicum.
The term is basionym:
– Bignonia indica L..
The terms are synonymous:
– Arthrophyllum ceylanicum Miq.;
– Arthrophyllum reticulatum Blume;
– Arthrophyllum reticulatum Blume ex Miq.;
– Bignonia lugubris Salisb.;
– Bignonia pentandra Lour.;
– Bignonia quadripinnata Blanco;
– Bignonia tripinnata Noronha;
– Bignonia tuberculata Roxb.;
– Bignonia tuberculata Roxb. ex DC.;
– Calosanthes indica (L.) Blume;
– Hippoxylon indica (L.) Raf.;
– Oroxylum flavum Rehder;
– Oroxylum indicum (L.) Vent.;
– Spathodea indica (L.) Pers..

Etymology –
The term Oroxylum comes from the Greek “ὄρος” (oros), meaning mountain and “ξύλον” (xylon), meaning wood, with reference to the mountain locations where it is present.
The specific epithet indicum comes from the Latin “indicus, a, um”, that is, from India, in reference to one of the places of origin.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Oroxylum indicum is a plant native to the Indian subcontinent and to an area that includes: Assam, Bhutan, Cambodia, China (Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Henan, Hong Kong, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Kin-Men, Macao , Ma-tsu-Pai-chúan, Shanghai and Zhejiang), Philippines, Java, India, Andaman Islands, Peninsular Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Lesser Sunda Islands, Sri Lanka, Sulawesi, Sumatra, Thailand and Vietnam.
The range extends from the foot of the Himalayas, with a part extending to Bhutan and southern China, India and the Malaysian ecozone.
Its habitat is that of humid forests, often along the banks of watercourses or on mountain slopes, between 500 and 1200 m above sea level.
This plant can therefore be found in the forest biome of the Manas National Park in Assam, India. It is found, bred and planted in large numbers in the forest areas of Banswara district in the state of Rajasthan in India. It is reported in the list of rare, endangered and threatened plants of Kerala (South India).

Description –
Oroxylum indicum is an evergreen or partially deciduous tree, little branched and up to about 15 m tall.
The trunk is cylindrical, 15-30 cm in diameter, with vertically fissured greyish-brown bark.
The leaves are opposite, grouped towards the apex of the branches, impartipinnate, bi- or tripennate, 0.6-1.5 m long and 0.9 m wide, with opposite ovate to elliptical leaflets with pointed apex and entire margin, long 5-12 cm and 3-10 cm wide; the cylindrical leaf axles, swollen at the insertion points, which dry accumulate at the base of the tree, give the impression of a pile of broken limb bones, hence one of the most characteristic common names.
The inflorescences are grouped in terminal, erect, 0.6-1.5 m long racemes bearing numerous hermaphroditic flowers, on a 3-6 cm long pedicel, with a leathery bell-shaped calyx, 2-4 cm long and 2 cm in diameter , funnel-shaped corolla, about 10 cm long and 6-8 cm in diameter, with 5 slightly retroflexed lobes of reddish purple color externally, pale pinkish yellow internally and 5 stamens; the flowers open at night and emit an unpleasant odor that attracts the bats that provide pollination.
The fruits are bivalve, woody, flat, saber-shaped, hanging capsules, 0.5-1.2 m long, 5-10 cm wide and about 1 cm thick.
Inside these there are numerous flat discoid seeds surrounded, except at the base, by a large semi-transparent whitish papery wing, 5-8 cm long and 3-4 cm wide, which favors their dispersion via the wind.

Cultivation –
Oroxylum indicum is a fast-growing tree that is a popular vegetable locally in Southeast Asia, it is particularly popular in Java where it is often sold in local markets.
The plant is also widely used to provide a number of traditional remedies. A handsome specimen tree with bold, glossy foliage and extremely long, firm fruit, it is often grown as an ornamental plant in gardens in the tropics and subtropics.
It is a plant of subtropical or tropical areas, it tolerates a wide range of climatic conditions, occurring mainly below 1,000 meters altitude.
The plant has a curious growth habit: it grows rapidly from seed to a height of 5 – 10 meters, then flowers and stops growing further upwards. The lower shoots then break to give rise to rigidly erect branches.
In general, however, it is a fast-growing plant, cultivable in tropical and subtropical regions, where as an adult it can resist temperature values close to 0 °C only if exceptional and of very short duration, requires exposure in full sun or semi-shade and easily adapts to different climatic conditions, from semi-arid to humid, and to different types of soil.
The tree has a rather short life.
The plant reproduces easily by seed, which often germinates in the capsule still hanging from the tree if there are favorable humidity conditions, by cuttings and by root suckers, produced in large numbers.

Customs and Traditions –
Oroxylum indicum is a plant known by various common names, among these we include: bat tree, broken bones plant, Damocles tree, indian trumpet flower, midnight horror, scythe tree, tree of Damocles (English); aralu, bhatghila, toguna (Assamese); mu hu die (Chinese); bhut-vriksha, dirghavrinta, patronna, shuran, sonapatha, syonak, tentoo, vatuk (Hindi); kampong (Malay); aralu, katvanga, prthsuimba, shoshana, shyonaka (Sanskrit); achi pana, arandei, cori-konnai, paiyaralandai, palaiyudaycci, peiarlankei, palagaipayani, vangam (Tamil); nam hoang ba, nuc nac (Vietnamese).
The Onge name for the tree is talaralu. According to an Onge myth, the first Onge people, also called Onge, were created from Eyuge (lizard) from oroxylum wood. Onge created a refuge and planted oroxylum trees around it, and created more humans from the trees. The trees were planted in pairs, giving rise to both Onge men and women. Only the Onge were created this way; Onge mythology offers no explanation for the existence of non-indigenous or other indigenous Andamanese peoples.
The plant is used by the Kirat, Sunuwar, Rai, Limbu, Yakha, Tamang in Nepal, by the Thai in Thailand and by the Lao in Laos.
In the Himalayas, people hang sculptures or garlands made from O. indicum (Skt. shyonaka) seeds on the roof of their homes in the belief that they provide protection.
The Kelantanese and Javanese people forge a type of plant pod-shaped keris called keris buah beko.
It is a plant with edible leaves, flower buds, pods and stems. The large young pods, known as Lin mai or Lin fa in Loei, are consumed mainly in Thailand and Laos. They are first grilled over a charcoal fire and then the tender seeds inside are usually scraped out and eaten along with the womb. Known as karongkandai among the Bodos of northeastern India, its flowers and fruits are eaten as a bitter side dish with rice. Its fruits are eaten as a side dish and the water from the leaves and bark boiled as a traditional medicine in Mizoram. It is known in Mizoram as Arhangkawm. It is often prepared from fermented or dried fish and is believed to have medicinal uses. The pods are also eaten by the Chakma people in the Chittagong hill areas of Bangladesh and India. It is called “Hona Gulo 𑄦𑄧𑄚 𑄉𑄪𑄣𑄮” in Chakma language.
The plant is an important food among the Karen, who also appreciate it for its medicinal value. The flower buds are boiled and pickled. The young pods are cut raw and the tender seeds inside, having the color and texture of lettuce leaves, are used in various local dishes.
Finally, it is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental due to its particular appearance.
In Vietnam, the tree is called núc nác (sometimes sò đo), and some specimens are found in Cat Tien National Park.
The root bark is used as a tonic against stomach pain and, mixed with turmeric, to treat animal wounds. The young shoots are used as vegetables. The wood is used for the production of matches.
All parts of the plant have been used since ancient times in traditional medicine, where the species occupies a place of pre-eminence, for various pathologies; Laboratory studies have confirmed the presence of promising bioactive substances and further research is underway.
Oroxylum indicum seeds are used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. The root bark is one of the ingredients believed to be useful in the compound formulations of Ayurveda and other folk remedies.
In India, the bark decoction of Oroxylum indicum (L.) Kurz. (Bignoniaceae) is used as a traditional medicine to treat intestinal-helminthic infections. O. indicum bark extract showed concentration-dependent effects against larval and adult worms of Hymenolepis diminuta, and thus the extract is promising in the control of intestinal helminthiasis.
From the phytochemical point of view, various parts of O. indicum, including leaves, root bark, heartwood and seeds, contain various substances, such as prunetin, sitosterol, oroxindin, oroxylin-A, biochanin-A, ellagic acid, tetuin, anthraquinone and emodin. Many of the compounds are undergoing preliminary research to identify their potential biological properties.
Among the materials used there are wood, tannins and dyes.
Other uses include agroforestry uses.
The plant is a fast-growing species, most likely suitable for use as a pioneer species.
The seeds are used as hat lining and to cover umbrellas.
The papery, vinous seeds are tied together as an offering to gods and goddesses, especially by Buddhists.
The fruit is used in tanning and dyeing.
The bark is rich in tannins.
The wood is soft and can be used to make matches; with its long fibers it is suitable for being pulped to produce paper.
Wood is used as fuel but is of poor quality.
From an ecological point of view, Oroxylum indicum lives in relationship with the actinomycete Pseudonocardia oroxyli present in the soil surrounding the roots.

Preparation Method –
Oroxylum indicum is a plant that is grown for various purposes, including ornamental, food, medicinal and for various materials.
In addition to this, the young leaves and flowers, raw or cooked, and the immature fruits boiled, are consumed as vegetables, and a dye is obtained from the bark, rich in tannins.
The young leaves and flowers, raw or cooked, are eaten as a garnish with rice, usually with a mixture of various spices including chillies, red onions, candlenuts, lemongrass and ginger.
The young shoots can be eaten cooked as a vegetable.
The cooked flowers, buds and young pods are highly prized as vegetables.
The young fruits are cut into pieces, boiled and eaten with rice.
Older fruits are grilled and added to the curry.
The unripe seed is grilled and served with chili sauce.
The ripe seeds are used to make a refreshing drink known as chub liang.
The seed is also an ingredient in Chyavanprash, a famous Ayurvedic food tonic.
Medicinally the plant has a long history of use in traditional medicine and modern research has shown that it contains a number of medically active compounds.
The various parts of the plant are rich in flavonoids and glycosides and studies have demonstrated different activities in the body. In particular, dichloromethane extracts of stem and root bark have been shown to possess antimicrobial activities against a range of both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and also against the yeast Candida albicans.
The isolated flavonoid baicalin has shown inhibitory effects against human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1).
The bitter bark of the root is anti-allergic, astringent, blood purifying and tonic. It is used in the treatment of allergic diseases, urticaria, jaundice, asthma, sore throat, laryngitis, stomach disorders, diarrhea and dysentery.
In allergic dermatitis, an alcoholic maceration of the fresh bark is applied externally. When mixed with turmeric, the bark is used to treat animal sores.
The root is attributed with antirheumatic, antidysenteric and diuretic properties.
The seeds and bark are used medicinally to relieve body pain, especially during fever and as an anti-inflammatory medicine. They also apply to burns and wounds.
The juice of the bark is taken internally to cure diarrhea and dysentery.
A decoction of the bark is a refrigerant, used in the treatment of fevers and jaundice.
A decoction of the leaves is drunk as a cure for stomach ache.
The leaves, applied externally, are used in the treatment of cholera, fever, childbirth and rheumatic swellings. The boiled leaves are used as a poultice during and after childbirth, in dysentery and for enlargement of the spleen. Leaf poultices can further be applied for toothache and headache.
The seed is expectorant and laxative.
A decoction is used in the treatment of cough, bronchitis and gastritis.
The seeds are applied externally to the ulcers.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

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Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and food uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; we therefore decline any responsibility for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.

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