The Hard among Trees

Famed for its immense medicinal value, Indian Rose Chestnut, Cobra Saffron or Nagkesar (Mesua Ferrea/नागकेसर) is a handsome, medium-sized evergreen tree. Its botanical name Ferrea means 'belonging to iron' referring to its very hard & durable timber. It is often planted as an ornamental for its fragrant white flowers that yield a perfume.

The tree flowers during the dry season and flowers are bisexual. They has nice fragrance. The flushes of new leaves are produced just after flowering at the start of the rainy season. The new foliage can be strikingly attractive as it's red in colour which turns creamy yellow afterwards, giving the tree a wonderful appearance. The flower is the state flower of Tripura and the tree itself is the state tree of Mizoram.

The Nagkesar tree is very beautiful and known for its ornamental value. It is an attractive lawn tree with a regular, conical, bushy crown, vivid green leaves and showy, fragrant flowers. It is commonly grown along roadsides and in parks, a perfect species for urban plantation. Though it is equally useful, it is hardly considered as!

Environmentally, the tree very good! Its dense canopy provide shelter to many birds as well as shade. It provide abundant green manure for agriculture or garden. It also helps in Nitrogen fixing due to Endo-mycorrhizal associations. The seed meal of Nagkesar is a good source of protein & energy and its use as a feed ingredient for cattle is proposed.

Other uses include as a provider of good quality coal, tannin, dyes etc. The fragrant flowers are also used to stuff pillows, cushions and in cosmetic products & perfumes.

Medicinally, it is well known species in traditional medicine of Ayurveda and admired all over India as well as overseas. Many parts of the tree has digestant, antimicrobial, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, anthelmintic and haemostatic activity. It can be used in the treatment of numerous ailments like fever, itching, nausea, leprosy, skin disorders, erysipelas, bleeding piles, metrorrhagia, menorrhagia, excessive thirst and sweating. It also known to enhance the complexion. It leads to fragility transparency to the skin. Oil from the seeds is used for sores, scabies, wounds and rheumatism.

Probably that's the reason, Nagkesar tree is considered sacred in India!


  1. Is this punnaga or calophyllum inophyllum....

    1. No sir... This is different species. Thank you very much for rectifying the mistake. :)