Facts about Cutch Tree

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Facts about Cutch Tree

Cutch Tree Quick Facts
Name: Cutch Tree
Scientific Name: Acacia catechu
Origin Southern Himalayas of Pakistan, northern India and Nepal, south to Andhra Pradesh in India, and east to Burma and Thailand
Colors Green when young turning to shiny brown
Shapes Beaked strap shaped pod, 5-8.5 cm long and 1-1.5 cm wide, flat, shiny, brown, dehiscent
Taste Bitter, acrid, astringent
Health benefits Beneficial for cough and sore throat, dysentery, diarrhea, chronic catarrh, treat nose bleeds, hemorrhoids, skin eruptions, bed sores, mouth ulcers, sore throats, dental infections, Diabetes and leucoderma
Acacia catechu also commonly called Black catechu, Black cutch, is a deciduous, thorny tree belonging to the Fabaceae family. The plant is native to Southern Himalayas of Pakistan, northern India and Nepal, south to Andhra Pradesh in India, and east to Burma and Thailand. It is occasionally planted in Indonesia (Java), Thailand, Burma and India. The plant is called katha in Hindi, and kachu in Malay, hence Latin “Catechu” for this type species from which the extracts cutch and catechu are derived. Few of the popular common names of the plant includes Black catechu, Black cutch, Catechu, Catechu tree, Cutch tree, Khair gum, Khair tree, Wadalee gum tree and cashoo. The generic name, ‘acacia’, comes from the Greek word ‘akis’, meaning a point or a barb. The species name comes from ‘cutch’, a tanning extract isolated from its heartwood.

The parts of the tree used for medicinal purpose are twig, bark and wood. It is used in preparation of Khadiraristha. Heartwood is boiled and processed to produce Kattha which is used in Paan. It is a very famous herb used for skin problems and management of blood related disorders. It is a great blood purifier and skin rejuvenating herb. Being exported in large numbers to various parts of the world since many centuries, Acacia has been hugely significant as herb of great medicinal value.

Plant Description

Cutch Tree is a moderate-sized deciduous, gregarious thorny tree that grows about 12-15 m tall. The plant occurs naturally in mixed deciduous forests and savannas of lower mountains and hills. It is mainly common in the drier regions on sandy soils of riverbanks and watersheds. It grows in a wide range of soils, such as sandy, gravelly alluvium, loam with variable proportions of sand, and clay and black cotton soils. It is capable of growing in shallow soils.

The plant has taproot that grows about 2 meter deep. Stem is dark brown to black, with rough bark which peels off in long strips in mature trees; young trees have corky bark. Barks are normally dark grayish-brown to dark brown, rough, about 1.3 cm thick; exfoliating in long, narrow rectangular strips; blaze brownish-red. Branches are shiny, slender and puberulous when young but glabrescent after, the base of each petiole bearing 2 curved, 8-mm long prickles.

Leaves

The fern-like leaves are 100-200 mm long and contain between 8 and 30 pairs of small leaves made up of numerous, oblong pairs of secondary leaflets 2-6 mm long. Glands occur on the stem below the first pair of leaves, and between the uppermost six pairs of leaves. Pairs of stout thorns up to 10 mm long are found at the base of each leaf.

Flower

Flowers occurs in 5-10 cm long axillary spikes, pentamerous, white to pale yellow, with a campanulate calyx, 1-1.5 mm long, and a corolla 2.5-3 mm long; stamens numerous, far exerted from the corolla, with white or yellowish white filaments. Flowering normally takes place from July to August.

Fruits

Fertile flowers are followed by beaked strap shaped pod, 5-8.5 cm long and 1-1.5 cm wide, flat, shiny, brown, dehiscent. Fruits are initially green turning to Shiny brown as they mature. It contains 3-10 seeds. Seeds are flat, ovoid, dark brown seeds, 5-8 mm in diameter. 

Traditional uses and benefits of Cutch Tree

  • Heartwood extract of A. catechu has been widely used in traditional Indian medicinal system.
  • It is used for medicinal purposes, especially for the treatment of cough and sore throat.
  • Bark is said to be effective against dysentery, diarrhea and in healing wounds.
  • Seeds have been reported to have an antibacterial action.
  • Leaves, young shoot and bark of which are often used to check bleeding and discharges.
  • Plant is strongly astringent, encouraging clotting of the blood and reducing excess mucous in the nose, large bowel or vagina.
  • It is taken internally in the treatment of conditions such as dysentery, chronic diarrhea and chronic catarrh.
  • Externally, it is used as a wash etc. to treat nose bleeds, hemorrhoids, skin eruptions, bed sores, mouth ulcers, sore throats, dental infections etc.
  • Seeds have been reported to have an antibacterial action.
  • It is used in a variety of medicinal preparations to combat skin disorders of all kinds.
  • It is the best for the treatment of Leprosy.
  • Soft stems are great for massaging the gums and gentle scrubbing of the teeth on a regular basis.
  • It also helps in fighting obesity which is also a result of imbalanced kapha in the body.
  • It is one of the best herbal choices for Diabetes, Cough, Cold, leucoderma or several other inflammatory conditions in the body.
  • Several Liver problems and blood disorders can be curbed easily with regulated use of Khadira along with other Liver protective and hematinic herbs.
  • It possesses Anti-fungal property which restrains the fungal growth.
  • It is known to treat various skin disorders like Infections, Allergies, and Pigmentation.
  • Besides, it is also used to stop excessive bleeding.
  • It acts as a Natural birth controlling agent.
  • Extract of Catechu cures swelling in liver and spleen.
  • It is effective in curing Dental Problems.
  • It is used as an ingredient in mouth rinses and gargles.
  • It reduces the inflammation in the gums and counters the problem of bad breath.
  • Decoction made from its bark serves as an anti-pyretic and is anti-inflammatory in nature. When mixed with Milk it relieves Cold and Cough.
  • Extract mixed with honey treats diarrhea. It soothes the Digestive Tract.
  • Heartwood is boiled with other ingredients to prepare the decoction. It is taken as tea by the pregnant ladies to keep warm their body. It is also given to cure fever due to cold during the pregnancy.
  • Decoction is served to women after 2-3 days of child delivery, prepared by boiling katha along with cardamom. It is believed that it provides strength to the body and also helps in secretion of milk.
  • Water boiled with the heartwood chips of Khair, is used to take bath by women after delivery. It is considered beneficial to cure the body pains.
  • Katha or decoction of heartwood is applied in mouth and on tongue to cure mouth ulcer.
  • It is applied externally on ulcers, boils, skin eruptions and on gums as disinfectant.
  • Its decoction, fermented liquids are used internally to treat a variety of skin disorders like psoriasis, eczema, allergic hives, dermatitis.
  • Mixture of flower tops, cumic, milk and sugar is useful in gonorrhea.

Ayurvedic Health benefits of Cutch Tree

  • Hoarseness: Take a piece of catechu. Chew it until it dissolves in the mouth. Do this twice a day.
  • Obesity: Powder it. Take a pinch and mix it in one glass of luke warm water. Drink twice a day for seven days. (Caution: Don’t use it more than seven days.)
  • Toothache: Take a small piece of Catechu. Keep it near the affected tooth.
  • Stye: Boil 10 to 12 Catechu Leaves in 250 ml of water. Deep a clean cotton cloth in lukewarm solution and compress over affected eye.
  • Wound: Use bark decoction of Catechu to wash your Wounds when bearable hot. OR: Crush leaves of Catechu to make paste. Apply it over Wounds. OR: Dry the bark of Catechu. Grind to make powder. Dust it over damaged Skin.
  • Dysentery: Soak 15 g Catechu bark in 1 Liter water. Boil and drink whenever feel thirsty.
  • Aphthous Ulcers: Prepare leave decoction of Catechu. Swish with it.
  • Gum Disease: Gargle using leave decoction of Catechu once a day.
  • Cough: Take Catechu leave paste with Honey twice a day.
  • Polyuria: Add 2 g Catechu gum in a cup of lukewarm water. Drink it once a day.
  • Dental Disease: Rub barks powder of Catechu on your Gums and Teeth.
  • Leprosy: Add 20 g bark powder of Catechu in your bathing water. Take bath with it.
  • Anorexia: Prepare a decoction using Catechu bark. Take 5 ml twice a day.
  • Ascaris: Drink 26 ml bark decoction of Catechu two times a day.
  • Gingivitis: Take Catechu, Wild Geranium and Myrrh. Powder them. Add a little clove powder. Use it as a tooth powder.
  • Chest Congestion: Take Catechu and Red Wood. Prepare a paste. Apply on the chest two times a day.
  • Colic: Take Catechu, Sweet Potato, Lemon. Grind them. Add a little water. Drink it two or three times a day.
  • Diarrhea: Take equal quantity of Catechu and Cinnamon. Powder them. Take 1/4 tsp powder with 1/2 tsp honey per day.
  • Cough: Take Catechu powder. Mix it with Turmeric powder. Take it with honey twice a day.
  • Toothache: Take Catechu with little amount of Cinnamon and Nutmeg. Chew it for five minutes. Do this twice a day. (Caution: Excess Nutmeg may cause adverse effect.)
  • Aphthous ulcers: Take Catechu bark and Ziziphus Oenoplia bark. Powder them. Add a little butter. Cook them. Keep it for a few minutes in the fridge. Apply it on the Sores or Ulcers. Do this at least once a day.
  • Gum Diseases: Burn One Areca Nut and make ash. Add 2 tablespoon powdered Clove and a pinch of Catechu. Use it as a mouth wash thrice a day.
  • Bad breathe: Fry 3 tablespoon Areca Nut powder in 3 tablespoon ghee. Add Carom, Catechu and Rock salt in equal quantities. Grind. Apply all over mouth thrice daily.
  • Gum diseases: Fry 3 tablespoon Areca Nut powder in 3 tablespoon ghee. Add Carom, Catechu and Rock salt in equal quantities. Grind. Apply all over mouth thrice daily.
  • Ulcers: Mix Frankincense gum, Myrrh gum, Catechu resin and Ginseng Noto root powder. Apply it locally on ulcers.
  • Toothache: Take 5 tablespoons Banyan Bark Powdered, 1/4 teaspoon Catechu Powdered and 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper Powdered. Mix all the above herbs. Use it as tooth powder twice a day.
  • Haemoptysis: Take two tablespoon of Alum and One tablespoon of Catechu bark. Grind. Put it in a bottle. Take three tablespoon three times a day for 7 to 10 days.
  • Diabetes: Prepare decoction of 4 tablespoon Papaya, 1 tablespoon Catechu and 1 tablespoon Betel-nut. Take 1/2 cup two times a day.
  • Anemia: Take Catechu gum, Basil leaves and Purslane in 3:1:1 ratio. Fry them in Olive oil for 6-7 minutes. Soak the fried mixture in bowl full of Rose Water. Let it stand for one day. Take 1 tsp once a day.
  • Yellow Teeth: Char the bark of Catechu. Take it and add roasted Alum powder with Salt in 4:1:1 ratio. Brush your Teeth daily with this mixture.
  • Eczema: Take 20 g bark each of Mango and Catechu. Boil it in water. Dip a piece of cloth in it and apply over affected areas.
  • Urinary Tract Infection: Prepare a decoction of Areca Nut and Catechu bark. Add one teaspoon of Honey. Take 20 ml twice a day.
  • Piles: Take a pinch of Ziziphus Xylopyrus root bark powder, Anogeissus latifolia root bark powder, Catechu root bark powder and Viscum Articulatum whole plant with one glass of water.
  • Nose bleed: Take a pinch of each of Ziziphus Xylopyrus root bark powder, Anogeissus latifolia root bark powder, Catechu root bark powder and Viscum Articulatum whole plant with one glass of water.
  • Blood in sputum: Make a decoction from the bark of cutch tree. Gargle the decoction and drink an ounce of it twice a day to stop blood in sputum.
  • Tooth Care: Take the powder of heartwood of Cutch tree and boil it in sesame oil. Gargling the oil will keep all gum, tooth, and other oral diseases at bay.
  • Dry cough: Take a teaspoon of heartwood powder of cutch tree mix it with a cup of curd. Swallow this preparation to soothe the throat. Khadir is excellent for all throat and voice disturbances. Hold the heartwood powder with some oil in the mouth for five minutes daily.
  • Skin diseases: Cutch tree is a well-known herbal drug for the cure of all skin diseases ranging from psoriasis and leprosy to eczema and common skin rashes. For best results, make a decoction of Khadir heartwood and amla powder and drink an ounce twice a day. Water boiled with khadir powder should be used for drinking, bathing and washing patches.
  • Tooth disorders: Gargle the decoction made with cutch tree every day to keep free of dental caries, gum infections, and tooth disorders.
  • Diabetes: Take an ounce of the decoction of the Cutch tree and areca nut every morning to regulate and keep blood sugar levels under control.
  • Toxic state: In suspicion of any poisoning, drink water with the root powder of cutch tree and powdered neem seeds immediately.

Other Facts

  • Wood is boiled to extract the resin. This is rolled into balls and grated and mixed with betel nuts and lime and chewed.
  • Dense thorny branches provide nesting sites for granivorus birds like Munias.
  • There are 15,000-40,000 seeds/kg.
  • It is a valuable fodder tree for goats and cattle, and its slender branches are lopped before main leaf fall.
  • Both fruit and stem are used in Myanmar to poison fish.
  • Flowers are attractive to bees and provide an excellent source of nectar and pollen.
  • Black cutch is used as live fence.
  • It provides highly calorific firewood that also makes good quality charcoal.
  • Its high density wood is resistant to white ants and is used for posts, agricultural implements and wheels.
  • Catechu extract is also used for preserving fishing nets and ropes, and for dyeing cotton, silk, canvas, paper and leather a dark-brownish color, and also as viscosity modifier in on-shore oil wells.
  • Fresh leaves and small lower branches are eaten by cattle.
  • Khaki dye can be obtained from the bark.
  • Bark shows a light gum of very good quality and is one of the best substitutes for gum Arabic.
  • Dried logs, twigs and branches are largely used as fuel.
  • Trees are chopped heavily for their leaves used as fodder particularly for sheep and goats.
  • Wood of khair is preferred to prepare various parts of local plough, handles of axe, saw, sickle, hammer, spade and combs.
  • It is considered one of the sacred trees by the natives and wood is used in the religious ceremonies at the time of havans (yagna).
  • Wood is considered sacred and used as one of the religious plants along with bhojpatra (Betula utilis) at the funeral ceremony. It is believed to provide mukti or moksha (peace to the heavenly soul).
  • Cutch is used locally for tanning leather and as dye to a great extent.
  • Cutch is used as adhesive in plywood industry and it is also used in preparing polishes and paints.
  • Tree starts flowering and producing pods when 5 – 7 years old.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=506363#null

https://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/80643/

https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Acacia+catechu

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=SECA28

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/ild-33296

https://indiabiodiversity.org/species/show/228563

https://www.feedipedia.org/node/354

http://www.biodiversityofindia.org/index.php?title=Acacia_catechu

https://uses.plantnet-project.org/en/Acacia_catechu_(PROSEA)

https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Senegalia+catechu

http://www.flowersofindia.net/catalog/slides/Cutch%20Tree.html

https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxonomydetail.aspx?id=465184

https://www.allinahealth.org/CCS/doc/Thomson%20Alternative%20Medicine/48/10394.htm

https://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1220&context=ebl

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