Karkatashringi (Pistacia integerrima)

Karkatashringi (Pistacia integerrima) tree is indigenous to India and is found in the outer ranges of the North-Western Himalayas at an altitude of 500 to 2500 meter. For medicinal purpose, mainly the galls present on the leaves and branches are used. Galls are not the growth of tree but these are formed by insect Aphis (Dasia asdifactor). The insects live inside it and suck the juice of tree. These galls are greenish, pinkish, with horn like shape. Galls are hallow from inside.

The Ayurvedic name of gall is Karkatashringi. Its powder is used for medicinal purpose in Ayurveda and folk medicine. It is astringent, expectorant, anti-asthmatic, anti-dysenteric, and styptic.

Karkatashringi is used in Ayurveda in treatment of cough, asthma, bronchitis, phthisis, catarrhal fever, enlarged glands and externally on obstinate skin diseases, bleeding gums, epistaxis, leucorrhea, and other mucous discharges.

General Information

The botanical name of Karkatashringi is Pistacia integerrima Stewart ex Brandis. Its synonym is Pistacia chinensis Bunge subspecies Integerrima (Stewart) Rech. f. It belongs to plant family. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.

The source of Karkatashringi is Pistacia integerrima (galls).

The other source of Karkatashringi is Rhus semialata, (Tintidik) Rhus succedanea galls (Anacardiaceae).

  • Botanical Name: Pistacia integerrima STEW. EX BRANDIS.
  • Family: Pistaciaceae.
  • Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: leaf, bark, root and galls (most used).
  • Plant type: deciduous shedding tree.
  • Distribution: The Himalayas from Indus to Kumaon.
  • Habitat: dry slopes with shallow soils.

Vernacular Names

  • Ayurvedic: Chakra, chakrangi, chandraspada, ghosha, karkata, karkatakhya, karkatasringi, karkatasrngi, karkati, kasavinashini, kolira, kulingi, mahaghosha, natangi, navanga, shikhari, srngi, vakra, vanamurdhaja, visani, vishanika
  • Unani: Kaakraasingi, Kakar
  • Siddha: Karkatagasingi
  • Assamese: Kakiasrngi
  • Bengali: Kankda Shringi
  • English: Crab's claw
  • Gujrati: Kakada shing, Kakada singi
  • Hindi: kakar-singi, kakara, kakaran/kakkar, kakare, kakari, kakaro, kakarsinghi, kakkar, kakkatasimgi, kakra, kakra-singi, kakrain, kakran, kakreran, kakrian, kakroi, kareran
  • Kannada: Chakrangi, kaakada shringi, karkaataka shringi, karkatakasrngi
  • Kashmiri: Kakkar, Kamaladina
  • Malayalam: karkkatakasrmgi, karkkatasrmgi
  • Marathi: Kakadshingi
  • Oriya: Kakadashrungi, Kakadashringi
  • Punjabi: Kakar, Kakarsingi
  • Tamil: Kakkata-shinigi, kakkatasrngi
  • Telugu: Kakarsingi, Karkatakashrungi
  • Urdu: Kakra, mastagi desi


Pistacia integerrima is a multi-branched, single stemmed, deciduous tree, up to 25 m tall. The tree has low/dense crown base and roots deeply. Leaves large, up to 25 cm long, pinnate (frequently paripinnate) leaves bearing 2-6 pairs of lanceolate, long leaflets.

The terminal leaflet is much smaller than the lateral ones or even reduced to a micro Inflorescence red. The fruits are globular, apiculate, 5-6 mm in diameter, purplish or blue at maturity and with a bony endocarp.

Description of Galls

The dried galls are hard, hollow, horn-like, and thin-walled. These are generally cylindrical, tapering at both the ends, greyish brown externally and reddish brown internally. The size varies from 2.5-30.0 cm or more.

On breaking open the galls a reddish inner surface is seen which appears to be covered with whitish particle of dust.

Each gall contains numerous dead insects, odour, terebinthine, taste of powdered galls, strongly astringent and slightly bitter.

Constituents of Galls

Essential oil, tannins and resinous matters.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action of Karkatashringi

  • Rasa (taste on tongue): Kasaya (Astringent), Tikta (Bitter)
  • Guna (Pharmacological Action): Guru
  • Virya: Ushna (Heating)
  • Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Madhura (Sweet), Amla (Sour), Katu (Pungent)
  • Action: Kasahara, Kaphavatahara (balances kapha and vata), Urdhvavatajit, Hikkanigrahana
  • Ayurvedic medicine, Shringyaadi churna contains Shringi and indicated in treatment of vomiting, cough and fever.

Constituents of Karkatashringi

The tetracyclic triterpenes, pistacigerrimones A, B and C have been isolated from the galls produced on the leaves.

Dosage of Gall:3–6 g in powder form.

Medicinal Properties

  • Demulcent: relieving inflammation or irritation.
  • Expectorant: promotes the secretion of sputum by the air passages, used to treat coughs.
  • CNS depressing: depression of the central nervous system that can result in decreased rate of breathing, decreased heart rate, and loss of consciousness.
  • Analgesic: acting to relieve pain.
  • Anti-asthmatic: treat or prevent asthma attacks.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.

Medicinal Uses of Karkatashringi

  • In Ayurveda, for medicinal purpose the powder of galls is used alone or with other herbs.
  • Karkatashringi is indicated in whooping cough, asthma and other respiratory ailments.
  • For vomiting, the Karkatashringi powder is given with Motha.
  • Karkatashringi is spermatogenic and given for improving vigor and vitality. For this purpose, the paste of Karkatashringi is given with milk.
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