Know about Butterfly Tree

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Know about Butterfly Tree

Butterfly Tree Quick Facts
Name: Butterfly Tree
Scientific Name: Bauhinia variegata
Origin Southern China, the Indian sub-continent and Southeast Asia
Colors Green
Shapes Pods long, narrow and pointed at the ends, hard, flat, glabrous, 13–25 cm long, 15–18 mm wide,
Taste Sour, Astringent, sweet
Health benefits Anti-cancerous properties, Antidote for snake bites, Cures diuresis, Treats oral disorders, Useful for rectal prolapse, Cure diarrhea due to indigestion, Ease burning sensation, Controls blood sugar, Menorrhagia haemolysis, Treat hypothyroidism, Anti-tumor activity
Bauhinia varigata (Butterfly Tree) is a popular ornamental plant commonly known as Kachnar or Mountain-ebony.  The plant is native to southern China, the Indian sub-continent (i.e. Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan) and Southeast Asia (i.e. Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand). It is now widely cultivated elsewhere in subtropical and tropical regions of the world. It has naturalized elsewhere in the tropics in Queensland and southern United States. It is known by several other vernacular names such as Bauhinia, Butterfly Ash, Camel’s Foot, Camel’s Foot Tree, Orchid Tree, Pink Orchid Tree, Poor Man’s Orchid, Purple Orchid Tree, Variegated Orchid Tree, White Bauhinia, White Bauhinia Orchid Tree, White Camel’s Foot and White Variegated Orchid Tree.

The plant is a species of flowering plant in the family Fabaceae. It is grown as ornamental tree in gardens and along the roadsides. The generic name Bauhinia was given by Linnaeus in honor of the Bauhin brothers, Johann and Gaspard, who were 16th- and 17th-century Swiss scientists. Johann was a botanist and Gaspard was both a botanist and physician. The botanical name of white flower bearing species is Bauhinia variegata and for purple/pink flower is Bauhinia purpurea (Lal Kachnar). Botanical name of yellow flower bearing species is Bauhinia tomentosa. This is a very popular ornamental tree in subtropical and tropical climates, grown for its scented flowers and also used as food item in South Asian cuisine. In the Neotropics, it can be used to attract hummingbirds—such as sapphire-spangled emerald, glittering-bellied emerald, or white-throated hummingbird into gardens and parks. On the other hand, in some areas it has become naturalized and invasive.

Plant Description

Butterfly Tree is a small, erect, medium-sized evergreen or deciduous to semi-deciduous tree that grows about 20-40 ft. (6-12 m) tall and 10-20 ft. (3-6 m) wide. The plant tolerates a wide range of soils including well-drained, gravelly, shallow, rocky, sandy loam and loamy soils. The plant has 20 cm trunk diameter and bark is one inch thick, rough and dark brownish. Branch is gray puberulent when young, later becomes glabrous. Today, Butterfly Tree is one of the most popular flowering trees for warm-weather climates. It blends well into almost any landscape and can provide welcome shade during the summer.


The leaves of tree are shaped like a camel’s hoof print.  They are alternate, variable in size, ranging from 10–20 centimeters (3.9–7.9 in) long and broad, rounded, and bilobed at the base and apex, cordate base with 5–12 palmate veins and borne on 2–4 cm long petioles.  The leaves of tree shed in month of November and December and new leaves grow in March-April.

Flower & Fruit

Flowers occur in 1 or few, in short lateral racemes, showy, large and fragrant 8–12 centimeters (3.1–4.7 in) diameter, with five petals. Petals are obovate, 3–8 cm long, 2–3 cm wide, variable in color, pale purple to rose or white, the uppermost one darker, with purple or crimson veins or blotches, or white to yellowish, with green veins, and purplish externally, fertile stamens 5, the anthers are 5 mm long. Flowering takes place during Feb-March. Flower is followed by brown, strap-shaped, not septate, elongated dehiscent pods, 15- 30 cm long, up to 1.5-2.5 cm wide, containing 10-15- shiny-brown, glabrous, dehiscent, rounded, flat seeds. Pods are green when young turning to brown as they mature. Fruit mature during spring and summer. Fruit does not attract wildlife.

Health benefits of Butterfly tree

Various part of the plant i.e. flowers, buds, stem, roots, bark, seeds, leaves have been used since ancient times for the treatment of a wide range of diseases. It is used traditionally in dysentery, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, piles, edema, laxative, anti-helminthic, astringent, anti-leprotic, wound healing, anti-goitrogenic, anti-tumor, antidote for snake poisoning, dyspepsia and carminative disease. Listed below are popular health benefits of butterfly tree

  1. Treatment of Hemorrhoids
  2. Regulating of Blood Flow during Menstruation
  3. Purification of Blood
  4. Treatment of Digestive System Problems
  5. Healing Internal Wounds
  6. Treatment for Cough
  7. Anti-cancerous properties
  8. Antidote for snake bites
  9. Cures diuresis
  10. Treats oral disorders
  11. Useful for rectal prolapse
  12. Cure diarrhea due to indigestion
  13. Ease burning sensation
  14. Controls blood sugar
  15. Menorrhagia haemolysis
  16. Treat hypothyroidism
  17. Anti-tumor activity

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Traditional uses and benefits of Butterfly Tree

  • Various parts of the tree have been used in local folk medicine for various ailments in Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia especially in the Ayurveda medicine system.
  • Plant is used for diarrhea, dropsy, renal problems, dyspepsia, fistula, glandular enlargement, leprosy, piles, and skin diseases and for slimming in Sri Lanka.
  • Different parts of the plant have been used to suppress the edema, dysentery, ulcers, eye disease, skin diseases, piles and hemorrhoids.
  • Kachnar is extensively used in Ayurveda as tonic to the liver.
  • Plant juice is used in bath after childbirth.
  • Bark is alterative, anthelmintic, astringent and tonic.
  • Juice of the bark is used in the treatment of amoebic dysentery, diarrhea and other stomach disorders in Nepal.
  • Powdered bark is traditionally used for tonic, strains, ulcers and skin diseases.
  • Paste of the bark is useful in the treatment of cuts, wounds, skin diseases, scrofula and ulcers.
  • Root is used as an antidote to snake poison.
  • Root decoction is used to treat dyspepsia.
  • Flowers and dried flower buds are used in the treatment of piles, dysentery, diarrhea, intestinal worms and stomach disorders and as a laxative.
  • Dried buds are used in the treatment of piles, dysentery, diarrhea and worms.
  • Juice of the flowers is used to treat diarrhea, dysentery and other stomach disorders.
  • Root is used as an antidote to snake poison.
  • Decoction of the root is used to treat dyspepsia.
  • Bark is used in preparation of a paste that is effective in treating skin ailments like skin discoloration.
  • Paste of its roots is a good herbal cure for cuts and wounds.
  • It also helps in treating critical illness like cancer.
  • Its dry buds and roots are used to treat digestive problems like vomiting, nausea, belching.
  • Its roots and flowers are a good herbal remedy for rheumatic pain.
  • It is beneficial in maintaining health of the kidneys. It prevents deposition of toxic chemicals in the kidneys.
  • It is a good herbal cure for diuresis.
  • It is beneficial effect on intestinal ulcers.
  • It is a good herbal remedy to treating diarrhea and for removing intestinal worms.
  • Its bark is used to counteract snake bites.
  • Kachnar is used to cure asthma and ulcers.
  • Buds and roots are good for digestive problems as it is very important.
  • In scrofulous enlargements of cervical glands, the bark powder is given with dried ginger powder and rice water.
  • Decoction of flower buds is given to treat bleeding disorders such as abnormally heavy or prolonged menstruation, bleeding piles, blood in urine, and bleeding from mucous surface.
  • Bauhinia leaves and bark have been used frequently in folk medicine as a remedy for different kinds of the pathologies, particularly, infections and diabetes.

Ayurvedic Health benefits of Butterfly Tree

  • Diabetes: Drink 10 ml leaf decoction of Bauhinia once a day. Use it regularly for one month.
  • Wounds: Boil Bauhinia plant in water. Wash your wounds with it when bearable hot.
  • Cough: Drink decoction prepared from the flowering buds of this herb, dosage: 10-15 ml every day until the symptoms continues.
  • Diarrhea: Take dried bark powder. Have 3 gm. of this powder two times a day with a glass of water. Try this for 5 days.
  • Sore Throat: Take 10 ml bark of this herb. Put 400 ml water in a pan. Add the bark to it. Boil it till the water in the pan reduces to ml. Strain it. Gargle with this water thrice a day.
  • Liver Disease: Drink 100 ml of juice of leaves of this herb, twice a day. For children the dosage is reduced to ml 20 ml. Try for a week.
  • Tumors: Take 10 gm. dried bark of the herb. Boil it in 400 ml water until water reduces to 100 ml. Strain and drink it twice a day.
  • Flatulence: Drink 10 ml decoction of roots of Bauhinia, twice a day.
  • Thyroid Problems: Add 20 gm. of Bauhinia tree bark powder in 200 ml of water. Boil till the water reduces to 50 ml. Strain and drink it twice a day.
  • Piles: Prepare or buy the jam of Bauhinia flower buds. Take one tsp of this jam twice in a day. It cures bleeding piles.
  • Indigestion: Prepare a decoction of Bauhinia roots. Drink this decoction twice a day. Continue until the symptoms persist.
  • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Add 20 gm. of Bauhinia tree bark powder in 200 ml of water. Boil till the water reduces to 50 ml. Strain and drink it twice a day.
  • Hyperthyroidism: Add 20 gm. of Bauhinia tree bark powder in 200 ml of water Boil till the water reduces to 50 ml. Strain and drink it twice a day.
  • Goiter: 14-28 ml. decoction of stem bark is given thrice daily or 14-28 gram paste of stem bark is given with 25-100 ml rice water thrice daily.
  • Tonsils, Thyroid Problem: oil bark (20 gm.) in water (200 ml) till water reduces to 50 ml. filter and drink.
  • Jaundice: Grind leaves of Kachnar to extract juice. This juice can be taken twice a day. Dose for adult patient is 100 ml and for children is 15 ml.
  • Mouth Ulcers, Bad Breath: Take bark (10 gm.) of Kachnar tree and boil in water (400 ml) till volume reduces to 100 ml. Filter and gargle frequently.
  • Diarrhea: Take dried bark and ground to make powder. Take this powder (3 gm.) twice a day.
  • Loss of appetite: Drink leaves juice of Kachnar.
  • Urinary Problems: Take bark (10 gm.), coriander seeds (4 gm.) and cook in 250 ml of water. Filter, add misri and drink.
  • Weakness: Dry flowers of kachnar in shade and grind to make powder.
  • Cysts in Uterus, Fibroids, and Tumors: Take dry bark (5 gm.) or fresh bark (10 gm.) and boil in 400 ml water till it reduces to 100 ml. Filter and drink. This is also helpful in curing hormonal imbalance.
  • Intestinal worms: Take 20 gm. bark of yellow bauhinia and boil in 400 ml water till water is reduced to 1/4th. Give this decoction to the patient. It kills the worms in the intestines.
  • Multinodular Tuberculosis:
  • Take 10-20 gm. bark and boil in 400ml water till water is reduced to 1/4th. Give this water to the patient. It cures multinodular tuberculosis.
  • Add 1 gm. dry ginger powder in 20 gm. decoction of its bark. Give this water to the patient every morning and evening.
  • Give 10-20 gm. decoction of its bark or flowers with honey twice a day. It cures multinodular tuberculosis and also purifies blood.
  • Mix 250 gm. barks powder with 250 gm. sugar. Give 5-10 gm. of this mixture every morning and evening with milk or water.
  • Chronic Constipation: Give 2-5 gm. powder of its dried flowers with sugar. It loosens the motions.
  • Bleeding Piles: Take 2-5 gm. powder of its dried buds and mix equal amount of sugar candy in it. Give this to the patient with butter, 2-3 times a day. It cures bleeding piles.
  • Diarrhea: It buds are cool and have binding properties. Cook them and give to the patient. It helps cure diarrhea.
  • Diarrhea due to indigestion: Give 5gm powder of dried leaves of yellow bauhinia followed by 2 teaspoonful of aniseed juice. It cures diarrhea due to indigestion.
  • Worm infected Wounds: Grind the seeds of yellow bauhinia in vinegar and apply the paste on the wounds. It kills the germs and worms in the wound and ulcers.
  • Boils: Prepare decoction of its bark with flowers of pomegranate tree. Use this decoction to gargle. It cures the boils.

Culinary Uses

  • Young sour leaves are eaten as a side dish with rice.
  • Flowers & flower buds are reported eaten in India, Southeast Asia, Africa and South America.
  • The young leaves, flowers and fruits are boiled and eaten as a vegetable, or are pickled.
  • The bark and flowers are used as pot-herbs.
  • Leaves are used for bidi, a local smoking material.

Other Facts

  • It is a very popular ornamental tree in landscaping and as a hedge plant in subtropical and tropical regions, grown for its showy fragrant flowers and unusual bilobed leaves.
  • The bark is a source of tannins. It is used for dyeing.
  • Wood is mainly used for house construction, agricultural implements, furniture, general utensils, carving and turnery, veneer, plywood, particleboard and tool handles.
  • Very popular ornamental tree in subtropical and tropical climates, grown for its scented flowers.
  • The leaves, shoots and pods of B. variegata are used as fodder for livestock, including sheep, goats and cattle.
  • It is a good fuel wood and is also converted into charcoal.






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