Plant Name: Cassia fistula L.
English: Golden shower tree, Indian laburnum
Interesting facts and history
- It is the state flower of Kerala in India and of immense importance amongst the Malayali population. In ancient Tamil literature, it is called kondrai and is closely associated with the Mullai (forest) region of Sangam landscape.
- It is the national tree of Thailand, and its flower is Thailand's national flower.
- Various species of bees and butterflies are known to be pollinators of Cassia fistula flowers, especially carpenter bees (Xylocopa sp.).
This tree grows to 10 m. tall.
This tree produces a dark brown bean-pod 30-60 cm long filled with a sticky pulp and 40-100 hard brown seeds. Unlike the related rainbow shower tree, C. fistula sheds its leaves around its flowering in March.
Compound leaves made up of oval-pointed leaflets 12 to 28 centimeters long.
The fruit is a legume, 30–60 cm (12–24 in) long and 1.5–2.5 centimetres (0.59–0.98 in) broad, with a pungent odor and containing several seeds.
Multiple bright yellow to orange-yellow flowers hang in clusters about 40 cm. long, although individual flower length is 2 to 4 cm.
Habit / Habitat
It’s a tree commonly found in tropical forests.
Growth for this tree is best in full sun on well-drained soil; it is relatively drought-tolerant and slightly salt-tolerant. It will tolerate light brief frost, but can get damaged if the cold persists.
1) Availability of the plant species in India: The species is native to the Indian subcontinent
2) Global distribution: It ranges from southern Pakistan eastward throughout India to Myanmar and Thailand and south to Sri Lanka.
World wide use: Seeds and fruits for medicinal purposes.
Used by tribal community in Jawhar: Flowers
Method of consumption
Flowers are boiled and cooked with onion and chillies after thoroughly draining the water.
- 15-20 seeds (8-10 g) are boiled daily in 1 cup (250 mL) of milk; 1-2 tsp (10-12 g) of sugar is also added, and the mixture is boiled for 8-10 min. Then it is filtered with a cloth and given to patients suffering from constipation and stomach disorders.
- The fruit pulp is considered as purgative.
Nutritional and medicinal information
The edible fruit tissue of Indian laburnum fruit is a good source of Iron (Fe) and Manganese (Mn). The pulp is rich in aspartic acid, glutamic acid, and lysine, which constitute 15.3, 13.0, and 7.8% of the total amino acids respectively in the pulp.
In the seeds the same amino acids constitute, 16.6% (aspartic acid), 19.5% (glutamic acid), and 6.6% (lysine). It also has a good energy content and could enhance the daily energy requirement of people in need of adequate caloric intake.
- Alcoholic extracts of the leaves was tested as a wound healing agent on rats. It has also been recorded that it possess antibiotic activity against the S. aureus and P. auruginosa and that has a wound healing activity and improved tissue regeneration.
- Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant activities of the aqueous (CFA) and methanolic extracts (CFM) of the Cassia fistula Linn. Barks were assayed in wistar albino rats. The extracts were found to possess significant anti-inflammatory effect in both acute and chronic models. Its bark extracts showed significant radical scavenging by inhibiting lipid peroxidation initiated by CCl4 and FeSO4 in rat liver and kidney homogenates. Both extracts exhibited significant antioxidant activity in DPPH, Nitric oxide and Hydroxyl radical induced invitro assay methods. Both extracts showed Dose-Dependent protective effect against lipid peroxidation and free radical generation in liver and kidney homogenates. Further, the acute toxicity study with the extracts showed no sign of toxicity up to a dose level of 2000 mg/ po. Thus it could be concluded that cassia fistula bark extracts (CFA & CFM) possess significant anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
Harvesting and preserving
Flowers can be harvested directly.
Propagation and Storage
Season of collection: Flowering in March.
How to grow it?
Cassia fistula is widely grown as an ornamental plant in tropical and subtropical areas. It blooms in late spring
Various species of bees and butterflies known to be pollinators of Cassia fistula flowers, especially carpenter bees (Xylocopa sp.)
It will grow well in dry climates. Full sun on well-drained soil is required for its growth
It is relatively drought tolerant and slightly salt tolerant. It can be subject to mildew or leaf spot, especially during the second half of the growing season.
Method of storage
Seeds could be stored directly without any processing.
Wood is used for making light furniture, agricultural implements, and tool handles, and as mud roof thatching and fuel. Pods are sold for cash.
4 Pole, Sebastian (2012). Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. Singing Dragon. p. 129. ISBN 1848191138. Retrieved November 10, 2012. (https://books.google.co.in/books?id=yKaVpwB7USYC&pg=PA129&dq=purgative+aragvadha&hl=en&sa=X&ei=p5WgUKCXI4TYqQHZ-YGYDg#v=onepage&q&f=false)
5 "Cassia Fistula (aburnum, Purging Fistula, Golden Shower, Amaltas)", Ayurveda - Herbs (4 to 40), retrieved 2011-01-20
6 Murali, KS (1993) Differential reproductive success in Cassia fistula in different habitants-A case of pollinator limitations? In: Current Science (Bangalore), 65 (3). pp. 270-272.