Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Mesua ferrea L., Sp. Pl. 515. 1753; T. Anderson in Fl. Brit. India 1: 277. 1874. Calophyllum nagassarium Burm. f., Fl. Ind. 121 . 1768. Mesua roxburghii Wight, Ill. Ind. Bot. 1: 127. 1840. M. nagana Gardner in Calcutta J. Nat. Hist. 8: 4. 1847. M. nagassarium (Burm. f.) Kosterm. in Ceylon J. Sci. (Biol. ser.) 12: 76.1976.

And.: Gangane; Asm.: Nahor, Karai; Garo: Khimdi (Garo); Guj.: Nagchampa; Hindi: Nagkesar, Naghas; Kan.: Naga sampigi, Nagsampige, Nagachampaka; Kh.: Dieng-ngai; Lus.: Herse; Mal.: Nanga, Peri, Veluthapala; Mani.: Utahn; Mar.: Nagachampa, Nagchapha, Thora champa; Naga: Ngai-ching; Nep.: Nari-su, Nagesuri; Or.: Nageshvoro, Nageswar; Punj.: Nagkesar ;- Sans.: Bhujangakhya, Kancchana, Kesara, Naga, Pushpara-chana; Tam.: Nangal or Nangul, Naka, Mallay-mangal, Irul, Naga-chambagam, Shiru-nagp-pu, Nagashap-pu, Nangu; Tel.: Naga-kesara, Naga-kesaramu, Geja-pushpam, Naga-champakamu; Eng.: Indian Rose chestnut, Ceylon Ironwood, Ironwood of Assam, Nagas tree, Mesua.

Evergreen trees, 20 - 30 m tall; trunk up to 3 m in girth, often buttressed at base; sapwood creamy-white or pinkish brown; heartwood dark red, extremely hard, tough, heavy, bitter and sweet scented; oleo-resin aromatic, clear; bark smooth, ash-coloured, grey, turning dark brown, exfoliating in large, white flakes; branchlets slender, terete. Leaves opposite, decussate, very variable, linear-lanceolate, oblong-lanceolate, lanceolate or elliptic-oblong, obtuse or acute at base, acute, acuminate or cuspidate at apex, rigidly coriaceous, glabrous, shiny above, glaucous and pruinose beneath, generally covered with a wax-like white powder beneath; new leaves crimson red turning pink and ultimately becoming dark green, midrib slender, prominent; lateral nerves very fine almost inconspicous especially on lower surface, straight, nearly parallel, subhorizontal; petioles slender, 5 - 12 mm long. Flowers white, sweet-scented, axillary and terminal on short, stout, rusty tomentose peduncles, usually solitary, rarely paired, bisexual, showy, 4 - 20 cm in diam.; pedicels 8 - 15 mm long, rather stout, densely rusty tomentose. Sepals 4 in 2 pairs, 12 - 20 mm long, inner pair much longer than outer, orbicular, imbricate, fleshy, concave glabrous to densely velvety puberulous outside, persistent. Petals white with brown or purple veins, 4, 2 - 4.5 cm long, obovate or obcordate, cuneate, margins curled and erose. Stamens numerous, forming a globose, yellow mass, 4 - 5 mm long; filaments very slender, filiform; anthers linear, 2.5 - 3 mm long, golden yellow. Ovary 5 - 7 mm long, ovoid, bilocular, ovules 2 in each locule; styles as long as or longer than ovary, often curved; stigmas small, peltate. Fruits 2.5 - 3.5 (-5) x 3 - 4 (-5) cm, ovoid to globose with a conical point, striate, 1-loculed, 1 - 4-seeded, supported by adpressed accrescent, up to 4 cm long sepals, edible; pericarp tough, somewhat woody, at length 2-valved. Seeds variously faceted, 2.5 mm long, pyriform, smooth, with a shiny, dark brown testa.

Fl. Jan. - March; Fr. May - Oct.

Distrib. India: Widespread up to 1500 m in North Eastern and Peninsular India. West Bengal, Assam, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andaman & Nicobar Islands; planted in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Sikkim and Orissa.

Nepal Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambo- dia, Thailand and Malacca.

Notes. Much planted as an ornamental around temples and as avenues, etc. Kostermans (in Indian J. For. 8(2); 160. 1985) opines that it is endemic to India and is introduced in other localities. A good ornamental tree with almost all its parts very useful. The timber is very valuable and used for various purposes. The seed oil, dried flowers are very fragrant. Stamens stuffed in pillows for their pleasant scent in Madura (Indonesia). The fruit and seeds are sometimes eaten. The oleo-resin from the bark, roots and immature fruits sometimes used as a substitute for Canada balsam. The parts used in various medicines include root, bark, leaves, a paste and syrup of the flowers and seed oil, etc.


1a. Leaves green, pale or scarcely glaucous beneath, 5 - 8 cm long; flowers ca 4 cm in diam.; sepals almost glabrous 2.1. coromandeliana
b. Leaves white; glaucous or pruinose beneath, 6 - 10 (- 20) cm long; flowers 8 - 16 cm in diam.; sepals densely pilose 2.2. ferrea

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