The Sacred Grove of the Vandalur Zoo – Part 2

Compiled by Prajwal Ramesh

Morphological characters and Medicinal importance of trees of Nakshatra Vanam in Vandalur Zoo, continued from part 1.

  • Nakshatra: Chitra (Chithirai)

Moon sign: Virgo (Kanya)

Scientific name of the plant: Aegle marmalos

Local name: Vilva Maram (Bael tree)

Bael is a deciduous, spiny and aromatic tree. It can grow to a height of 18 meters. The leaves are tri-lobed (trifoliate), ovate and are aromatic. The flowers are whitish green in colour and are scented. The fruits of this tree are pulps and are quite large, woody and aromatic.

This herb has a great spiritual, cultural and medicinal significance

  • It is most commonly known to control blood sugar levels.
  • The leaves of this plant help pancreas to produce more insulin
  • Vilva is one of the ten best anti-inflammatory and pain reliever herbs that belongs to the popular Ayurvedic group “Dashamoola”.

It is effective in managing

  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Ulcers
  • Infections
  • Constipation
  • Dysentery
  • Diarrhoea
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • It can also fight against skin diseases
  • Regulates the functioning of heart, cardiac muscles and cardiovascular system.
  • Nakshatra: Swathi

Moon sign: Libra (Tula)

Scientific name of the plant: Terminalia Arjuna

Local name: Neeramarudhu Maram (Arjun tree)

Arjun tree is a large deciduous evergreen tree. The tree can grow up to 25 meters and have a long and strong root system. The leaves are conical and are pale green in colour. The flowers are yellow in colour. The fruits are hard and has wings (fruit is called samara).        

Arjun tree is the one of the most known trees with medicinal and cultural importance.

  • The medicinal properties are most useful for the heart and the circulatory system.
  • Its astringent property detoxifies the blood.
  • It cleans urinary tract infections (UTI).
  • In females, it supports the uterus and regulates the hormonal cycle.
  • It heals wounds and ulcers.
  • It keeps the blood cholesterol level under control.
  • It keeps the lung airway clear and stimulates stamina of the people.
  • It is a very useful antioxidant for the body and the bark can heal the bone fractures quickly.
  • Nakshatra: Vishakha (Vishakham)

Moon sign: Libra (Tula)

Scientific name of the plant: Limonia acidissima

Local name: Vila Maram (Wood apple)

Wood apple is slow-growing deciduous tree with drooping branch tips. The bark is spiny and ridged. The leaves are alternately arranged, leathery and have dotted oil glands making it aromatic (lemon scented). The flowers are yellowish green and are borne in clusters. The fruit is hard, woody and round. The pulp is brown, odorous and sweet.

  • It is widely used as a liver and cardiac tonic across India
  • The pulp is astringent and can cure stings of venomous insects
  • It is used to treat diarrhoea, dysentery, sore throat and gum diseases
  • Regular application of bark paste on skin keeps the skin cool, smooth and gives good complexion
  • It protects against skin cancer by blocking UV rays.
  • Nakshatra: Anuradha (Anusham)

Moon sign: Scorpio (Vrishchika)

Scientific name of the plant: Mimuspos elengi

Local Name: Mahilam Maram (Spanish cherry)

This is a large glabrous evergreen tree that is 12-15 m high. The leaves are compact, elliptic and arranged alternate to each other. Flowers are white and fragrant. The fruit produced is a berry and is Ovoid in shape. It is yellow, compressed and shining.

This tree is well documented for several medicinal properties like

  • Gastro protective
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-carcinogenic
  • In Aurveda, this plant is specially known for teeth strengthening properties.
  • It is used to treat sores and wounds
  • Dried flower powder helps to relieve head ache
  • It is used to treat constipation in children
  • The leaf has anti-venom properties
  • It also helps cure asthma, liver complaints, gonorrhoea
  • Helps in relaxation of gums.
  • Nakshatra: Jyeshta (Kettai)

Moon sign: Scorpio (Vrishchika)

Scientific name of the plant: Aporosa cardiosperma

Local name: Vetti Maram (Lindley’s Aporosa)

Lindley’s Aporosa is an evergreen tree that can grow up to 15 m. Leaves are narrow, oblong or elliptic and are arranged spirally and alternatively. Flowers are unisexual and yellow in colour. Male flowers are yellow and female flowers are pale green. Male and female flowers are borne in clusters of different inflorescences. The fruit is a capsule and is spherical, yellow and glabrous.

The leaves and young stems are used to treat

  • Eye diseases
  • Skin diseases
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dysentery.
  • Fever  
  • Diabetes
  • Infertility
  • Hepatic diseases.
  • Root decoction with jaggery is used to cure headaches.
  • Nakshatra: Moola (Moolam)

Moon sign: Sagittarius (Dhanassu)

Scientific name of the plant: Mangifera indica

Local name: Maa maram (Mango)

Mango tree is one of the popular trees across the globe. It is an evergreen tree which can grow up to 45 m in height. It has a wide spread crown. It can live up to 300 years. The leaves are lanceolate shaped and pointed at ends. The leaves are soothingly aromatic. Leaves are small and are of different colours. Around 3000 flowers are borne in a cluster. Fruit is called a drupe and is yellowish green in colour.

In addition to the culinary and traditional uses of mango, it has a variety of medicinal uses.

  • The fruit by itself has a nourishing and calming effect on the body
  • Roots and leaves can be used to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diarrhoea
  • Flowers can be used to purify blood, gastric problems, Urinary tract Infections and Diabetes
  • Mango oil is also used to treat oral health issues
  • External application of mango can fasten wound healing and prevent bleeding form fresh injuries
Source: Ayushvedah
  • Nakshatra: Poorvashada (Pooradam)

Moon sign: Sagittarius (Dhanassu)

Scientific name of the plant: Salix tetrasperma

Local name: Vanji Maram (Indian Willow)

Indian willow is a medium sized tree and usually grows in wet and marshy regions. The leaves of this tree wither at the end of monsoon. The leaves are silky, lanceolate shaped, and have toothed margins. Flowering takes place after leafing. The flowers are unisexual and male inflorescences are comparatively small and scented. The female inflorescences are long. The fruit is a capsule and are found in groups of 3-4.

In Assam, it is used as food. In addition, it has significant properties of medicinal activities such as

  • Antimicrobial
  • Antifungal
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anticancer
  • Anti-HIV activity
  • The plant parts can also be used to treat gastrointestinal and pulmonary disorders.
  • It can be used to treat
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Viral infections
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Rheumatism
  • Piles
  • Bladder stones
  • Epilepsy

  • Nakshatra: Uttarashada (Uthiradam)

Moon sign: Sagittarius (Dhanussa)

Scientific name of the plant: Artocarpus heterophyllus

Local name: Pala Maram (Jackfruit)

Jackfruit trees are evergreen trees that are 25 m tall. The plant contains exudates of milky latex. Leaves are simple, ovate, sheathing and arranged alternatively. Flowers are unisexual, small and yellowish green in colour. Male inflorescences are small and arise from young branches. Female inflorescences are massive and arise from main branches. Fruit arises from inflorescence and is called sorosis. Perianth is the edible part of the fruit. The fruits are generally smooth and glossy.

In addition to its great nutritional value, the jack fruit has significant medicinal properties.

  • It can lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, blood sugar levels.

It can be used to treat

  • Ulcers
  • Insomnia
  • Wounds
  • Constipation
  • Blood coagulation
  • Bleeding disorders.
  • The bark’s decoction is used to treat skin disorders.
  • It supports heart health and digestive health.

The seeds will help in treating

  • Anaemia
  • Promoting immunity
  • Promoting healthy skin, hair and vision.
  • Nakshatra: Shravana (Thiruvonam)

Moon sign: Capricorn (Makara)

Scientific name of the plant: Calotropis gigentica

Local name: Erukku (Milkweed)

Milkweed is a perennial shrub which grows up to a height of 2.5 m. Leaves are simple, oppositely arranged and ovate. The flowers found are distinct as they are waxy and are white and violet in colour. The flower is attractive with a crown in the middle. The stem contains exudates of milky latex which is sticky. The fruit produced is a pair of follicles with hairy seeds.

Different parts of the plant have various medicinal properties.

  • The latex obtained from the plant induces vomiting, which helps in clearing worm infestations
  • It is also beneficial in treating various skin disorders
  • It also helps in relieving bloating and aids in proper digestion of food
  • It is anti-inflammatory and helps in healing the wound itching, healing skin and spleen disorders
  • It helps fight anorexia (disinterest in consuming food)
  • The herb is also used in treating haemorrhoids
  • The leaves are used as an antidote for snake poison
  • Latex is also useful to treat diarrhoea
  • Nakshatra: Dhanishta (Avittam)

Moon sign: Capricorn (Makara)

Scientific name of the plant: Moringa oleifera

Local name: Murungai Maram (Drumstick)

Drumstick is a small deciduous tree which can grow to height of 10-12 m. The leaves are compound, rounded-elliptical and sparsely arranged. The crown of the tree resembles umbrella. Flowering happens throughout the year. The flowers are bisexual, fragrant and are whitish-yellow in colour. The fruits are capsules that will be hanging.

Other than its culinary use, the drumstick has several medicinal properties.

  • This is an antioxidant herb
  • It protects from various infections
  • Powder of these leaves are good for heart, circulatory system and it reduces high blood pressure in the body
  • It enhances the male reproductive system by enhancing the quality of sperm
  • It is beneficial in treating arthritis rheumatism and cramps
  • The herb also effective in reducing cholesterol levels and risk of heart diseases
  • Severe headache is relieved by rubbing the leaves over the forehead
  • It is also effective in bronchitis, fever, inflammation of mucus membrane, eye and ear infections. The herb also prevents body against Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
  • Nakshatra: Shatabhisha (Sathyam)

Moon sign: Aquarius (Kumbha)

Scientific name of the plant: Anthocephalus cadamba

Local name: Kadambu Maram (Kadam tree)

The Kadam tree is a large tree with a height of 45m. The tree has a wide umbrella shaped crown. The leaves are long, ovate and oppositely arranged. Flowers are highly ornamental with scented golden ball like floral heads. The fruits are fleshy capsules which are packed closely together.

Apart from its cultural importance, the plant has important medicinal uses.

  • The herb has anti-venom properties which is useful to make an antidote
  • It has antioxidant, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial properties.
  • It is also effective in treating
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Tumour
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Problems related to urinary tract.
  • The flower paste is applied over black spots and pimples to cure them.
Source: Useful Tropical Plants
  • Nakshatra: Poorvabhadrapada (Poorururrathi)

Moon sign: Aquarius (Kumbha)

Scientific name of the plant: Terminalia elliptica

Local name: Karu marudhu maram (Indian Laurel)

Indian laurel is a medium sized deciduous tree that can grow up to 35 meters. The leaves are lanceolate-elliptical shaped and arranged alternatively. Flowers are light yellowish-brown. The flowers are small, lack petals and are arranged in clusters. The fruit of the tree is called samara as it is woody, fibrous and has wings.

The tree is mainly cultivated for its medicinal values.

Juice of the bark is used to treat

  • Wounds cuts
  • Skin disorders
  • Anaemia
  • Diarrhoea
  • Gum is used to treat stomach disorders

The herb is also used to induce

  • Vomiting
  • Treat headache
  • Remove dandruff
  • Treat burns
  • Swellings
  • It also has antiseptic properties.

  • Nakshatra: Uttarabhadrapada (Uthiratathi)

Moon sign: Pisces (Meena)

Scientific name of the plant: Azadirachta indica

Local name: Vembu Maram (Neem)

Neem is an evergreen tree that can reach heights up to 30 m and has an attractive crown at the top. It is known to provide immense shade. The leaves are compound, lanceolate shaped, small and arranged alternatively. The flowers are small, frangrant, yellowish white in colour and found in clusters. The fruit is called a drupe, oval, aromatic and is yellow when ripe.

The whole tree is used in Ayurveda for its medicinal properties.

  • It has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti0diabetic, anti-viral and sedative properties.
  • The herb is used to produce many cosmetic products to treat pimples, acne, ulcers and wounds
  • Neem leaves are believed to cure chicken pox
  • Decoction of leaves is used to purify and detoxify blood
  • Twigs of neem helps in treating disorders related to mouth and teeth
  • The herb is also as a repellent to pests, insects, ticks and mites

It is used to treat

  • Leprosy
  • Skin disorders
  • Wounds
  • Burning sensation
  • Vomiting
  • Inflammation
  • Fatigue
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) like gonorrhoea and herpes
  • Nakshatra: Revati

Moon sign: Pisces (Meena)

Scientific name of the plant: Madhuca longifolia

Local Name: Illupai maram (Mahua)

Mahua is a medium sized deciduous tree that can reach heights up to 20 m. The crown is round and has multiple branches. The leaves are simple, oblong and are arranged alternatively. Flowers are green or pink and are borne in a group of 12 and are fragrant. The flowers survive only for a night. The fruit is a berry which is fleshy and ovoid.

In addition to Mahua’s culinary importance, it is significant in Ayurveda.

The herb cures many disorders like

  • Headache
  • Rheumatism
  • Piles
  • Constipation
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Hair problems
  • Ulcer
  • Cold
  • Cough
  • Weakness
  • Respiratory problems
  • Diabetes
  • Burning sensation
  • Flowers are used to treat bronchitis.

Whether or not we agree with astrology, we must all agree that our ancestors have intellectually planned conservation methods to care for the plants and the environment. We strongly believe that a person must at least plant one plant and rejuvenate mother earth. We have been living as if we are last the generation on this planet and making the planet extremely anthropocentric. So let us plant more trees and use the resources judiciously.          

References:

  1. www.medicinalplantsofindia.com
  2. www.phytojournal.com
  3. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  4. www.flowersofindia.net
  5. www.plantayurveda.com
  6. www.eagri.org

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