Kachnar: Pretty and full of goodness : The Tribune India

Flora & Fauna

Kachnar: Pretty and full of goodness

Kachnar: Pretty and full of goodness


Amarjeet Singh Batth

For those of you who are fond of evening or morning walks along the Sukhna Lake, our this week’s tree will be easily relatable. You must have seen the purple hued flower-laden branches along the path marked for walkers on the lake. This ‘Tree of Life’ is not only a wonderful ornamental tree, but also an important herbal plant in Ayurvedic medicine system.

Bauhinia purpurea is commonly known as ‘Kachnar’ in India. It is a member of Fabaceae family and is native to eastern Asia.

It is also identified as orchid tree and is admired for its large, showy, rosy purple, fragrant and beautiful orchid-like flowers.

Bauhinia variegate bears bright pink to white flowers and Bauhinia tomentosa, a small-sized tree, produces large bell shaped yellow petals. It also drives its local name ‘Camel Foot’ tree as its leaves resemble a camel foot.

Kachnar is a middle sized perennial deciduous shrub or small tree.

The leaves are simple and notched or two lobed with deep cleft reaching almost half of their length. The inflorescence is axiliary or terminal raceme. Flowers are zygomorphic, complete, bisexual, large and showy. Calyx clefted, extending to base. Petals are five, oblong lanceolate, margin undulate, stamens five, perfect stamens only three. Its fruit is a pod, linear, glabrous, pointed, and dark brown in colour.


Things to remember 

  • Where to plant: It is planted as specimen tree in home garden and as a shady avenue tree. It bears beautiful aromatic pink, white or yellow flowers in spring season. It needs a sunny spot with abundant sunlight but can survive in semi shade also with rich well drained soil.
  • When to plant: It can be best planted during Feb-March and Aug- Sept. Dig a pit of 2’x2’x 2’. Expose the soil for few days before mixing farmyard manure and then settling the both in the pit. Irrigate it for the soil to settled down and manure heat to be released. After two weeks moisten the soil and place the sapling ( 3-5 feet of height) and lightly press the soil to firm the roots. Water the plantation immediately. Ensure the sampling stands straight and avoid giving a support.
  • Care and Upkeep: This tree can be grown with least maintenance. It is drought resistance when fully established. Regular pruning, however, is required to build a strong structure of the plant and good appearance. Once the bloom is over the flowered shoots should also be cut to stimulate the production of new shoots and inflorescences. Kachnar is free from serious garden pests and diseases but remain watchful of borers, caterpillars and mites.

Importance

  • It is a nitrogen fixing plant and helps soil fertility. With long list of medicinal values its flower buds are eaten raw as salad as pot herb and are also pickled and are ingredient in many sub continental recipes.
  • The tree bark is astringent and used as tonic, for coloring furniture, tanning and dyeing fiber.
  • The wood is hard and sturdy often used in constructions.
  • In ancient time, ‘Kachnar’ wood was used to make weapons, flags and agricultural implements.

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