IT is the fruit and flower of a tree that reveals its true character, brings out its multi-faceted personality and highlights the true worth it stands for. As spring slowly burns into unbearable blistering summer, and plants brave the heat burn, one tree that stands out and gives Chandigarh its distinct identity is the Amaltas.
Truly the golden shower tree, roads, avenues, parks are at this moment painted in its yellow hues – sunny bunches of flowers adorning the entire tree and sweeping the floor. Mind you, these are no ordinary flowers for they hold immense medicinal properties. And if you troll the internet or turn pages of ancient texts, you might just come across simple recipes to make fritters (pakoras) and perfume from Amaltas flowers.
The Amaltas has so many healing properties that it has earned the title of “aragvadha” – the disease killer in Ayurveda medicine. From distention, gastric problems, constipation to skin eruptions, Amaltas finds use in tackling all these problems for it has been researched as a laxative, metabolism booster, anti-inflammatory and blood purifier.
Known as Cassia fistula in the botanical world, it is also called the Indian Laburnum. In fact, the High Commissioner of Pakistan, Abdul Basit, along with his wife, Summiya Basit, recently planted an Amaltas tree sapling in Chandigarh for it is native to both India and Pakistan.
While bees and butterflies are pollinators of Amaltas seeds, interestingly, in an experiment conducted by Robert Scott Troup in 1911, it was found that the golden jackals to act as dispersing mediums. You see, they feed on the fruits (it’s about two feet, dark brown and cylindrical in shape with a hard pod) and then the seeds are dispersed through their gastro-intestinal tract.
Apart from charcoal and manure, providing shade Amaltas is perfect for apiculture (beekeeping) too. Amaltas flower is also the state flower of Kerala.
It is revered and offered during Vishu festival in Kerala.
Not only this, it is the national flower of Thailand and is featured on a Rs 20 Indian stamp too. Being an indigenous tree with valuable benefits, plantation and maintenance of the Amaltas tree hence becomes paramount.