A Bird's Paradise

The Semal tree is one of the most beautiful trees of the Indian sub-continent. The fast growing tree which is also known as Red Silk-Cotton Tree (Bombax Ceiba/शाल्मली, काटेसांवर, सावरी) bears large red, orange or yellow flowers when bloom and the young tree flowers abundantly spreading its vibrant colors all around standing out in the landscape. It is widely planted in parks and on roadsides because of its beauty.

The impressive tree is very valuable also. Almost every part of the tree is of some use. The Calyx of the young flowers is cooked & eaten as a vegetable. The bark is soft-and is used in the manufacture of match sticks. It is even used by fishermen as floats for their nets. Fiber can be obtained from the tree which is water-resistant & is a valuable component in life jackets. It is also used in insulation and for stuffing. It's seeds yield a pale yellow edible oil, which can also be used for soap making and as a substitute for cotton seed oil. The inner wall of the fruit produces silky floss, which is used for filling pillows, quilts and sofas.

That is not the end of the wonders of the fire & drought resistant Semal tree. In Ayurveda also, almost each part of the tree is useful. Be it the root or flowers or its bark or fruits or its seeds or even its prickles! The gum is obtained from the tree known as Mocharas, has some repute in Ayurvedic medicine. The gum is cooling, astringent, stimulant, tonic & demulcent in nature. It is useful in dysentery, hemoptysis, pulmonary tuberculosis, influenza, burning sensation, menorrhagia, enteritis, for healing wounds and to stop bleeding. Flowers are astringent and good for skin troubles & haemorrhoids. Seeds are useful in treating gonorrhea & chronic cystitis. A paste made out of prickles is good for restoring skin color especially on the face. Young fruits are useful in calculus affections, chronic inflammations, ulceration of bladder & kidney.

Since Vedic times, the tree has been considered as God tree by various communities. God tree means that no one is allowed to hurt the tree in anyway. Even today the tree is worshiped, respected, guarded and conserved by number of tribes in Rajasthan, Manipur, Chhattisgarh & Madhya Pradesh being considered as a tree totem. The tree has so much importance amongst these tribes that some of them consider this tree as one of their own relatives and they used to praise its shade also!

The beautiful tree gives excellent shade except for Jan to March, when the leafless tree is in full bloom. At the time, the large red flowers create a spectacular look. The tree is propagated by seeds & large cuttings. Overnight soaking of seeds in cold water will increase the chances of germination.

No tree attracts birds to quite the extent of the Semal tree. There is a constant chatter of bird voices from the tree in bloom. Birds like Orioles, Crows, Bulbuls, Mynahs, Drongo, Tree Pie, Babblers, Great Tits, Sun-birds, Parakeets, Flower-Peckers and many other squabble & jostle for a sip of the delicious nectar. Bees & other insects which are attracted by flower's nectar, in turn attract many insects-eating birds too. And since the Semal trees is large & tall, it becomes the favorite roosting and resting sites for the large birds especially the vultures and eagles as well! These all with other small birds make up a grand symphony of nature. The man who doesn't feel excited in the presence of such beauty surely must be a heartless fellow.


  1. Thank you for doing this blog mate, I've got 5 semal trees near my home and I've been searching for its name since long, we call it symbol tree here but thanks to you now I know what this beautiful tree is all about! cheers!

  2. It's really a beautiful tree a very beautiful & soothing sight of it with Palash tree in the month of Feb & Mar it represents that Nature is ready for Holi....

  3. When can we get seeds from this tree and how.

    1. April & May... The seeds are entangled in the silky floss of the fruit. If you can spot the tree, you just have to look for whitish silky floss. Seeds will be in that floss...

  4. Thank you very very much. I was about to cut the tree but will never. Thanks. Joseph

  5. I loved your post. It is indeed a beautiful tree. We have a very tall one in the compound and I have seen the most amazing birds come to roost on the tops.