Family: Fabaceae
Botanical name:Pongamia pinnata (Linn.) Merr./Derris indica(Lam.)Bennet.
Sanskrit: Karanja, Naktamala,Krimimardana,Gucchapushpa
English : Indian beech
Hindi : Karanj
Malayalam : Ungu, Pongu
Indian beech tree that grows to about 15–25 meters (50–80 ft) in height with a large canopy which spreads equally wide. It may be deciduous for short periods. The leaves are a soft, shiny burgundy in early summer and mature to a glossy, deep green as the season progresses. Flowering starts in general after 3–4 years. Cropping of pods and single almond sized seeds can occur by 4–6 years. Small clusters of white, purple, and pink flowersblossom on their branches throughout the year, maturing into brown seed pods.
Naturally distributed in tropical and temperate Asia, from India to Japan to Thailand to Malesia to north and north-eastern Australia to some Pacific islands; It has been propagated and distributed further around the world in humid and subtropical environments from sea-level to 1200m, although in the Himalayan foothills it is not found above 600m. Withstanding temperatures slightly below 0 °C (32 °F) and up to about 50 °C (120 °F) and annual rainfall of 500–2,500 mm (20–100 in), the tree grows wild on sandy and rocky soils, including oolitic limestone, and will grow in most soil types, even with its roots in salt water.
Indian beech is well-adapted to arid zones and has many traditional uses. It is often used for landscaping purposes as a windbreak or for shade due to the large canopy and showy fragrant flowers. The flowers are used by gardeners as compost for plants requiring rich nutrients. The bark can be used to make twine or rope and it also yields a black gum that has historically been used to treat wounds caused by poisonous fish. The wood is said to be beautifully grained but splits easily when sawn thus relegating it to firewood, posts, and tool handles.
While the oil and residue of the plant are toxic and will induce nausea and vomiting if ingested, the fruits and sprouts, along with the seeds, are used in many traditional remedies. Juices from the plant, as well as the oil, are antiseptic and resistant to pests.
The leaves of Indian beech can be used to cure toxic skin allergies. The seed, bark and the root of Indian beech can be used to make pills, tablets and decoction.
Pongamia pinnata / Derris indica Bennet
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