Puneet Varma (Editor)

Butea monosperma

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Kingdom  Plantae
Family  Fabaceae
Scientific name  Butea monosperma
Rank  Species
Order  Fabales
Genus  Butea
Higher classification  Butea
Butea monosperma httpswwwastroglecomimages201409buteamono
Similar  Butea, Millingtonia hortensis, Golden shower tree, Phanera variegata, Tembusu

Medicinal importance of butea monosperma palash tesu flame of the forest

Butea monosperma is a species of Butea native to tropical and sub-tropical parts of the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia, ranging across India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and western Indonesia. Common names include flame-of-the-forest and bastard teak.


Butea monosperma Plant Description

It is a medium-sized dry season-deciduous tree, growing to 15 m (49 ft) tall. It is a slow growing tree, young trees have a growth rate of a few feet per year. The leaves are pinnate, with an 8–16 cm (3.1–6.3 in) petiole and three leaflets, each leaflet 10–20 cm (3.9–7.9 in) long. The flowers are 2.5 cm (0.98 in) long, bright orange-red, and produced in racemes up to 15 cm (5.9 in) long. The fruit is a pod 15–20 cm (5.9–7.9 in) long and 4–5 cm (1.6–2.0 in) broad.

Butea monosperma Butea monosperma Wikipedia

In West Bengal, it is associated with spring, especially through the poems and songs of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who likened its bright orange flame-like flower to fire. In Santiniketan, where Tagore lived, this flower has become an indispensable part of the celebration of spring. The plant has lent its name to the town of Palashi, famous for the historic Battle of Plassey fought there.

Butea monosperma Butea monosperma Lam Taubert Open Data sharing by Keystone

In the state of Jharkhand Palash is associated with the folk tradition. Many folk literary expressions describe palash as the forest fire. The beauty of dry deciduous forests of Jharkhand reach their height when most trees have fallen their leaves and Palash is in its full bloom. Palash is also the State Flower of Jharkhand.

Butea monosperma Butea Monosperma Benefits amp Uses of Palash Always Ayurveda

It is said that the tree is a form of Agni, God of Fire. It was a punishment given to Him by Goddess Parvati for disturbing Her and Lord Shiva's privacy. In Telangana, these flowers are specially used in the worship of Lord Shiva on occasion of Shivratri. In Telugu, this tree is called Modugu chettu.

Cut and dried fine branches of the Palasha tree have been used in Vedic rituals for millennia. Small pieces of the Palasha branch are ritualistically dipped in ghee [rarefied butter] and offered to Agni or fire, while reciting Vedic mantras. Stacks of Palasha branches was a common sight at the houses of Brahmins in the old days, and occasionally, they can be still seen in the houses of orthodox Brahmins these days, typically in rural areas in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telngana. In Kerala, this is called 'plasu' and 'chamata'. Chamata is the vernacular version of Sanskrit word 'Samith'. Samithaadaanam is the word used to describe the ritualistic offering (daanam) of Samith (branches of the Palasha tree) as 'agnihotra' or the sacrifical offering.

Branches of the Palasha tree were also used as sticks to herd cattle and calves by cowherds in the Vedic age. Both cows and the Palasha tree were revered, and the long, fine branches of the Palasha tree were well suited to gently steer cattle without beating or hurting them.

In Theravada Buddhism, Butea monosperma is said to have used as the tree for achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi by second Lord Buddha called "Medhankara - මේධංකර". The plant is known as කෑල in Sinhala.

Palash tree or butea monosperma


Historically, dhak forests covered much of the doab area between the Ganges and Yamuna, but these were cleared for agriculture in the early 19th century as the English East India Company increased tax demands on the peasants. This tree used to exist in a large amount, where the battle of Plassey took place in 1757 A.D.This place is located 150 kilometers from Kolkata,West Bengal.From Ancient to modern times Palash has been given great importance. This tree is not only important in Hindu culture but also in the Buddhist doctrines. It is important in tribal and rural areas of India.This tree is included in the Leguminosae plant family. Earlier, its scientific name was Butea Frondosa,and it was named such for 'Covered with leaves'.


It is used for timber, resin, fodder, medicine, and dye. The wood is dirty white and soft and, being durable under water, is used for well-curbs and water scoops. Good charcoal can be obtained from it. The leaves are usually very leathery and not eaten by cattle. The leaves are used by street food sellers to serve food placed on the leaves.

Usage in leather

The gum is known as Bengal Kino and is considered valuable by druggists because of its astringent qualities and by leather workers because of its tannin.

Culinary use

The gum from the tree, called kamarkas in Hindi, is used in certain food dishes.

Patravali plate

In villages of many parts of India, for example in Maharashtra, this tree provides leaves that are used either with many pieced together or singly (only in case of a banana leaf) to make a leaf-plate for serving a meal over, and for example a would-be son-in-law was in older times (until a century ago) was tested on his dexterity in making this plate and bowl (for serving more liquid parts of the meal such as daal or stew) before being declared acceptable by the father-in-law-to-be.


The flowers are used to prepare a traditional Holi colour. It is also used as a dyeing color for fabric.


Mosquitoes are attracted by the smell and color of the flower. Eggs that are laid into the liquid within the flower will never hatch. Mosquitoes that touch the fluid can get trapped in it.


This tree has been used in Punjabi literature extensively. Great Punjabi poet Harinder Singh Mahboob has used it as a symbol in his poetry:

In Rudyard Kipling's short story Beyond the Pale (contained in Plain Tales from the Hills, published in 1888), he says of the dhak: 'The flower of the dhak means diversely 'desire', 'come', 'write', or 'danger', according to the other things with it.'

The first sloka of sukla yajurveda speaks about Palasa tree. The Palasa tree branch is cut & trimmed by the Adhvaryu priest who performs the practical part of sacrifice, the day before New or the full moon, uses it to drive the calves away from cows whose milk is to form part of the offerings of the next day's special ceremony.

Other names

Flame of the Forest Bastard Teak, Parrot Tree (Eng.), Chichra tesu, desuka jhad, dhaak, palaash, chalcha, kankrei (Hindi), PaLash (पळस) (Marathi), Palashpapra (Urdu), Muthuga (ಮುತ್ತುಗ) (Kannada.), Kinshuk, Polash (পলাশ) Bengali, Pauk (Burmese), Polash (Polax) in Assamese, Porasum, Parasu (Tam.), Muriku, Shamata (Mal.), Modugu(మోదుగ) (Telugu), Khakda (Guj.), Kela (Sinh.), Ploso (Javanese), Palash (Odia)

In Sanskrit also the flower is extensively used as a symbol of the arrival of spring and the colour of love. Jayadeva in the Gita Govindam compares these blossoms to the red nails of Kamadeva or Cupid, with which he wounds the hearts of lovers. The imagery is all the more appropriate as the blossoms are compared to a net of kimsuka flowers(किंशुकजाले). In a completely leafless tree, the blossoms look like a net.

मृगमदसौरभरभसवशंवदनवदलमालतमाले। युवजनहृदयविदारणमनसिजनखरुचिकिंशुकजाले॥

The above stanza is translated here by Barbara Stoller Miller, for Kimsuka blossoms, she uses the common name "Flame tree petals":

Tamala tree's fresh leaves absorb strong scent of deer musk. Flame tree petals, shining nails of love, tear at young hearts.

(Gita Govinda of Jayadeva, Love Song of the Dark Lord, Motilal Banarsidass)


Butea monosperma Wikipedia