The Tree with Stars!

From a distance, the flowers may appear like stars or snow flakes on a tree giving a beautiful appearance to the tree. This summer-bloomer is easy to spot either due to the flowers or its typical pods. Sweet Indrajao or Pala-Indigo (Wrightia Tinctoria/ काळा-कुडा, दुधी) is a small, deciduous tree with white, fragrant flowers. Due to its small size, the beauty & medicinal properties, the tree strongly needs to be introduced to urban areas.

When in bloom, it is one of the spectacular beauties to see. You just can't take your eyes off the tree. The fruits appear in pendulous pairs and coherent only at the tip. The hairy seeds are released as the fruit dehisces. 

It is a good agroforestry species as it inter-crop well. It can stand a wide range of soil types and is suitable for arid, semi-arid and moist regions, especially dry sandy sites or hillsides and valleys. The tree parts are known to be used as food in many regions. The flowers, leaves, fruits and seeds may be eaten as vegetables. The branches are trampled into the puddle soil in rice field for green manuring. Thus it acts as a soil improver. It coppices well & grows moderately fast. The leaves are lopped for livestock fodder.

The tree is known as Dudhi in India because of its preservative nature. Supposedly a few drops of its sap in milk prevent curdling and enhance its shelf life, without the need of refrigeration. The leaves yield a blue dye called Pala Indigo.

The pods contain floss or cotton-like substance, which is used for stuffing cushions. The liquid latex of tree can be used as a renewable source of hydrocarbons and intermediate energy resources. Latex is also a source of rubber. It is also useful in dyes & tanning industries.

In Indian traditional medicine, the bark and leaves are used to treat psoriasis, stomach pains and dysentery. The seeds are said to be aphrodisiac and anthelminthic. Seeds also yield deep red, semi-drying oil, which has medicinal value. 

So many uses and relatively very easy to propagate from seeds. Isn’t it a wonderful species?! A very important & attractive tree for city gardens and tree lovers!

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