Gmelina arborea Roxb.
Family : Verbenaceae
Common Name : കുമ്പിൾ (Mal)
: गम्हड़ (Hin)
: Gamhar (Eng)
IUCN Status : Least concern (LC)
It is a beautiful fast growing deciduous tree occurring naturally throughout greater part of India up to 1500 m. It is a fast growing tree, which though grows on different localities and prefers moist fertile valleys with 750-4500 mm rainfall. It does not thrive on ill drained soils and remains stunted on dry, sandy or poor soils; drought also reduces it to a shrubby form. The tree attains moderate to large height up to 30 m with girth of 1.2 to 4.5 m with a clear bole of 9-15 m. It is a treat to see the gamhar tree standing straight with clear bole having branches on top and thick foliage forming a conical crown on the top of the tall stem. Bark light grey coloured exfoliating in light coloured patches when old, blaze thick, a chlorophyll layer just under the outer bark, pale yellow white inside. Flowering takes place during February to April when the tree is more or less leafless whereas fruiting starts from May onwards up to June. Flowers occur in narrow branching clusters at the end of branches. The yellow flower, tinged with brown, is trumpet shaped, 3-4 cm long. The trumpets flare open into a gaping mouth with 5 distinct lobes.
Deciduous trees, to 25 m high, bark 8-10 mm thick, white or whitish-grey, smooth, lenticellate; branchlets stout, tomentose. Leaves simple, opposite, 7.5-25 x 6-20 cm, broadly ovate or ovate, base cordate truncate or rounded, apex acute or acuminate, margin entire, glabrous above and tomentose beneath, glaucous beneath; nerves 3-5 from base, lateral nerves 3-6, pinnate, prominent, prominent, puberulent beneath; 2 glands on either side of the midrib at the base; petiole 5-12.5 cm long, tomentose. Flowers bisexual, 3-3.7 cm long, yellow with orange-pink shade, in terminal panicles. Calyx 6 mm long, campanulate, 5 toothed, tomentose. Corolla bilabiate, tube ventricose, lobes 5, subequal, obovate, obtuse, densely hairy. Stamens 4, didynamous; anthers 2 mm, divaricate. Ovary 4 mm, superior, syncarpous, glabrous, ovules 4; style 2 cm, slender, glabrous, unequally bifid. Fruit a drupe 2.5-3.5 x 1-1.5 cm, ovoid, pulpy, pyrene bonny, ovoid with a deep depression, yellow; seeds 2-4, elliptic.
Use: The root and bark of Gmelina arborea are stomachic, galactagogue laxative and anthelmintic; improve appetite, useful in hallucination, piles, abdominal pains, burning sensations, fevers, ‘tridosha’ and urinary discharge. Leaf paste is applied to relieve headache and juice is used as wash for ulcers. Flowers are sweet, cooling, bitter, acrid and astringent. They are useful in leprosy and blood diseases. In Ayurveda it has been observed that Gamhar fruit is acrid, sour, bitter, sweet, cooling, diuretic tonic, aphrodisiac, alternative astringent to the bowels, promote growth of hairs, useful in ‘vata’, thirst, anaemia, leprosy, ulcers and vaginal discharge. The plant is recommended in combination with other drugs for the treatment of snake – bite and scorpion- sting. In snake – bite a decoction of the root and bark is given internally.
Distribution: Indo-Malesia, Introduced elsewhere
Flowering & Fruiting : January-June