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Bauhinia is known by several vernacular names such as Kachnar, Kanchan, Sihappu mantarai, Mountain Ebony, Kovidar etc. It is a very popular beautiful tree. It is grown as ornamental tree in gardens and along the roadsides. The leaves of tree are shaped like a camel’s hoof print. It bears beautiful aromatic pink, white or yellow flowers in spring season.
The botanical name of white flower bearing species is Bauhinia variegata and for purple/pink flower is Bauhinia purpurea (Lal Kachnar). Botanical name of yellow flower bearing species is Bauhinia tomentosa and in India, it is distributed in Southern India, Assam and Bihar. Yellow Kachnar or Yellow Bauhinia is small tree with large yellow flowers.
Various parts Kachnar tree have variety of uses. It is a nitrogen fixing tree that helps to enrich the soil fertility. Kachnar has edible leaves and flowers. Its leaves and buds are eaten as vegetable. These are also used as cattle feed. The tree bark is astringent and taken as tonic. It is also used for colouring furniture and tanning, dyeing fiber. The wood of tree is hard and used in constructions. In ancient time, Kachnar wood was used to make weapons and flags.
Kachnar is a medicinal tree and used in India from time immemorial for treatment of diseases. In Ayurveda, this tree is known as Kanchanar, Kanchanarak, Gandhari, Sona-pushpak (White-flower species) and Kovidar/Rakta Kanchanar (Pink flower species). The bark and buds of tree are alterative and astringent. For treating leprosy, scrofula, ulcers and other skin diseases the decoction of bark is given. In scrofulous enlargements of cervical glands, the bark powder is given with dried ginger powder and rice water. Decoction of flower buds is given to treat bleeding disorders such as abnormally heavy or prolonged menstruation, bleeding piles, blood in urine, and bleeding from mucous surface. The flowers have laxative action. Leaves are nutritive, anti-diabetic. They are used both internally and externally.
- Sanskrit: Kanchanaraka
- Assamese: Kancan, Kanchan
- Bengali: Kanchana, Rakta Kanchana
- English: Mountain Ebony, orchid-tree, poor-man’s orchid, camel’s foot, Buddhist bauhinia
- Gujrati: Champakati, Kanchnar, Kachnar
- Hindi: Kachanar, Kanchanar, Kachnar
- Kannada: Keyumandar, Kanchavala
- Kashmiri: Kalad
- Malayalam: Chuvanna Mandharam
- Marathi: Kanchana, Raktakancana
- Oriya: Boroda, Kosonaro, Kanjoni, Ronga-Konjono
- Punjabi: Kanchnar
- Tamil: Sigappu mandarai, Sihappu mantarai
- Telugu: Deva Kanchanam
- Urdu: Kachnal Burmese: Bwaycheng, Bwechin
- Scientific Classification
The botanical name of Mountain Ebony/Buddhist Bauhinia or Kachnar is Bauhinia variegata Linn and it belongs to the family Fabaceae (Leguminosae)/Pea Family. The synonyms of species are B. candida Roxb and Phanera variegata (L.) Benth. Its taxonomical classification is as given below:-
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Division: Magnoliophyta
- Class: Magnoliopsida
- Order: Fabales
- Family: Fabaceae
- Genus: Bauhinia
- Species: variegata
This tree is native to Eastern Asia (India, China).
Habitat: warm temperate and subtropical regions of world. In India, it is distributed throughout country, ascending to an altitude of 1300 in the Himalayas.
Parts used for medicinal purpose: flowers buds, flowers, stem bark, stem, leaves, seeds and root.
Propagation: by seeds and by air layering.
Small to medium-sized deciduous tree growing to 10-12 m tall; leaves 10-20 cm long and broad, rounded, bi-lobed at the base and apex;flowers conspicuous, bright pink or white, 8-12 cm diameter, with five petals;fruit pod 15-30 cm long, containing several seeds.
The leaves of tree shed in month of November and December and new leaves grow in March-April. Flowering is during Feb-March.
In India, Bauhinia variegata occurrs in sub-Himalayan tract extending eastwards to Assam, Eastern, Central and South India.
Ayurvedic Properties and Action of Tree bark on body
All parts of tree are used in Ayurveda for treatment of wide variety of ailments and especially for thyroid and glandular enlargements. The bark of tree is astringent to the bowels and tonic to the liver. It has following properties.
- Rasa (Taste): kashaya/Astringent
- Guna (Characteristics): Laghu/Light, Ruksha/dry
- Virya (Potency): Sheet/ Cool
- Vipaka (Post Digestive Effect): Katu/Pungent
- Action: Dipan, Grahi, Tridosh-har, Gandavriddhi-har
Also Read : Important Ayurvedic formulation like Kachnar Guggulu
Therapeutic uses of stem bark: krimi-roga (worm infection), gandamala (scrofula), apaci (cervical lymphadenitis) and vrna (wounds).
Bauhinia tree parts have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-malarial, pain reducing, swelling reducing, cytotoxic, fever reducing and thyroid hormone regulating properties. In Ayurveda, the tree is used extensively for treating skin and glandular diseases, leprosy, intestinal worms, tumours, wounds, ulcers, inflammations, scrofula, protoptosis, haemorrhoids, haemoptysis, cough, menorrhagia and bleeding disorders. It is considered best for treating diseases of lymphatic system and glands. Ayurvedic medicine, Kanchnar guggulu is used in treatment of Hypothyroidism.
1. Goiter (Galaganda, Gandamala)
- Galaganda is single swelling (cyst) in the throat and Gandamala is chain of swellings around the lower neck (cervical adenitis).
- In this condition, 14-28 ml. decoction of stem bark is given thrice daily or 14-28 gram paste of stem bark is given with 25-100 ml rice water thrice daily.
2. Tonsils, Thyroid Problem
Boil bark (20 gm) in water (200 ml) till water reduces to 50 ml. filter and drink.
3. Jaundice, Liver related problems:
- For Jaundice grind leaves of Kachnar to extract juice. This juice can be taken twice a day. Dose for adult patient is 100 ml and for children is 15 ml.
- This improves liver function and also helpful in curing liver enlargement.
4. Mouth Ulcers, Bad Breath :
Take bark (10 gm) of Kachnar tree and boil in water (400 ml) till volume reduces to 100 ml. Filter and gargle frequently.
Take dried bark and ground to make powder. Take this powder (3 gm) twice a day.
6. Loss of appetite :
- Drink leaves juice of Kachnar.
7. Burning Sensation in Urine, Urinary Problems :
- Take bark (10 gm), coriander seeds (4 gm) and cook in 250 ml of water. Filter, add misri and drink.
Dry flowers of kachnar in shade and grind to make powder.
Cysts In Uterus, Fibroids, Tumours:
Take dry bark (5 gm) or fresh bark (10 gm) and boil in 400 ml water till it reduces to 100 ml. Filter and drink. This is also helpful in curing hormonal imbalance.