The True Kadam!

Kaim (Mitragyna Parvifolia/ कैम, कळंब, कळम) is a deciduous tall & handsome tree with spreading crown. The tree is so beautiful that it is celebrated by the great Sanskrit poet & dramatist Kalidasa in his poetry.

Kaim has great ornamental value. Flowers are very pretty and very fragrant, yellow & grow in ball-shaped clusters. The flowers remind one of the better-known Kadam flowers. Leaves are a dark green in color, smooth, rounded in shape and opposite in growth pattern. It has erect stem with branching. Bark is relatively smoot, exfoliating in small scales. Kaim is a moderately fast-growing species. Though it is a deciduous tree, it is leafless for short period of time and is drought tolerant. Young trees withstand shade, whilst older trees are light demanding. 

According to ancient literature, this is the true Kadam which is associated with Lord Krishna in Vrindavana, rather than the well-known tree Kadam (Neolamarckia Cadamba /कदंब). But this is definitely a case of mistaken identity. Neolamarckia Cadamba is not found naturally in the hot, dry Vrindavana region. Kaim is not only native to the Vrindavana forests but is their dominant tree. Interestingly, Kaim trees are still found almost everywhere in Vrindavana. The same appears true for the Mother Goddess Durga, who resides in a Kadam forest (Kadamba Vana Vāsinī). So, the tree should truly be called as Haripriya, God's favourite! :-) 

In Ayurvedic medicine, the tree is recommended for Anti-arthritic, Antipyretic, Anticonvulsant, Anthelmintic, Anti-microbial, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-nociceptive, Antiproliferative and Antioxidant activity. In traditional medicine in the Indian subcontinent, the tree is used for fevers, colic, muscular pains, burning sensations in the stomach, poisoning, female problems, coughs, oedema and blood-related diseases. 

This garden tree is often admired for the beauty and also planted along roadside. The caterpillars of the Commander (Moduza procris), use this species as a food plant. The tree is difficult to propagate in the nursery. The ripe fruits are collected during April - June. The ripe heads are dried in the sun to separate the seeds. Seeds are very small & light. Germination Percentage is 50-60%. It often grows more or less gregariously on low-lying ground with clayey soil, around the edges of streams, lakes & swamps. It is also recommended for plantations in black cotton soils and on alluvial ground near rivers. It is not only drought hardy species, but can withstand waterlogging too! 

Kaim is a greatly useful agroforestry species. The leaves are used as animal feed and the flowers serve as forage for bees. The hardy tree provides good quality fuelwood, charcoal and tannin. It is used as a species for revegetation of an eroded area, as it provides useful green manure. Kaim can be used as windbreak and shade tree. The tree can provide shelter to many birds and insects. 

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