Family: Dipterocarpaceae (Sal family)
Genus: Shorea
Botanical name: Shorea robusta
Sanskrit: Sala, Agnivallabha, Ashvakarna, Ashvakarnika, Rala
Hindi: Sal, Salwa, Sakhu, Sakher
English: Sal Tree, Shala tree
Malayalam: Chenjalyam, Salavriksham, Salamaram, Mulapoomarut
Sal Tree is moderate to slow growing, and can attain heights of 30 to 35 m and a trunk diameter of up to 2-2.5 m. The leaves are 10–25 cm long and 5–15 cm broad. In wetter areas, it is evergreen; in drier areas, it is dry-season deciduous, shedding most of the leaves in between February to April, leafing out again in April and May.
Sal Tree is one of the most important sources of hardwood timber in India, with hard, coarse-grained wood that is light in colour when freshly cut, but becomes dark brown with exposure. The wood is resinous and durable, and is sought-after for construction, although not well suited to planning and polishing. The wood is specially suitable for constructing frames for doors and windows. The dry leaves of sal are a major source for the production of leaf plates and leaf bowls in northern and eastern India. The leaves are also used fresh to serve ready made paan (betelnut preparations) and small snacks such as boiled black grams, gol gappa, etc. The used leaves/plates are readily eaten by goats and cattle that roam the streets freely. The tree has therefore protected northern India from a flood of styrofoam and plastic plates that would have caused tremendous pollution. In South India, fresh plantain and banana leaves are used instead.
The bark, leaves, resin and fruits of Sal Tree is used for fever, jaundice, burns, headache, infection and nervine pain.
Shorea robusta
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