The Mountain Tree

In Hindu mythology, it is believed that while traveling to Lanka, the tree sprouted from the drop of nectar that fell from the bodies of the God Rama’s monkeys, which were restored to life by Indra, the supreme king of the Hindu gods. Hence the name Indrajao or Indrajav. Though a well known species in ancient literature of Ayurveda; it is a beautiful and impressive species in first place. Indrajao or Kurchi tree (Holarrhena Pubescens/इंद्रजव, कुटज, पांढरा कुडा) is a deciduous, small tree. 

The flowers are aromatic & bright white which turn creamish yellow as they age; with oblong five petals rounded at the tip. White flowers appear in corymbose cymes at the end of branches. Profuse flowering can be seen from April to July. Fruits are paired, dehiscing follicles hanging from the stalk. 

The flower of Indrajao reminds one of an introduced genus Plumeria, commonly known as Frangipani. But similar appearance can not guarantee the virtues. An introduced species is introduced after all. How can it compete or even match the goodness of native Indrajao..?!

Widely known in Ayurveda by the name Kutaja; its numerous healing properties has been mentioned in the Vedas. It has been used to treat several gastro-intestinal diseases for hundreds of years and is still used by several Indian tribes to cure ailments like epilepsy, anemia, skin infections and cholera, apart from digestive problems. It is a one of the best drug for Amoebic Dysentery or Diarrhoea. The tree is also useful in Rheumatic Arthritis & Osteoarthritis. Indrajao also possesses potent immuno-stimulant property. Its scented white flowers improve appetite and its seeds act as a cooling agent. The tree is propagates with seeds. The seeds should be soaked in cold water for 24 hours and then sown. This will increase the germination rate.

In Sanskrit, 'Kuta' means mountain. The tree which grows in mountain region is Kutaja. Thus, it can grow in tough conditions and grows moderately fast. It tolerates variety of soils, and can grow even in degraded land. It is believed to improve the soil where it grows. Shade retards its growth but it can tolerate full sun. As an effective screen or as a taller hedge, this species can be planted in a continuous row. It does well in tough sites even with little watering and it requires almost no maintenance. Indrajao with its short stem, many branches and little broad crown converts the corner of a residential area into a pictorial patch. Its bright white mildly fragrant flowers add grace to the garden. The tree performs well in the urban environment.

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