(Last Updated on : 19/10/2010)
Though not very much prominent or eye-catching amongst the other trees, the Babul Tree is one of the very well known trees in India. Named as `Acacia Arabica` in science, this tree is another member of the family of `Leguminosae`. It belongs to the `Mimoseae` sub family. The name `Acacia Arabica` derived from the Greek word `Akis` that means a sharp point. This tree is called as `Babul` or `Kikar` in Hindi
. The Bengali
people named it as `Babla`. Both in Tamil and Malayalam
, the tree is known as `Karu-velam`. It is `Natta Tuma` in Telugu.
In the interiors and waterless regions, the Babul Tree is one of those very few trees that is able to find adequate nourishment and attains an average height. The tree protects itself from the grazing animals by establishing itself through arming its branch. It provides a good shade to these animals. However, the older trees and the branches that are beyond the reach of animals are not armed. The pairs of tiny leaflets are able enough to fold flat, the tree gets a greater chance of survival not only at night, but during the excessive heat also. The leaflets also posses a great value as it is capable of doctoring injuries. By exuding a gum from its branches, people can cure the wound very quickly.
The `Babul` tree is small or medium in size and occasionally rises beyond 12 m. It has some straight, excellent grey-downy branchlets. During the months of July and November, the aromatic tiny, golden yellow globes appear in groups. In some localities, they appear all through the year and also contain several minute blossoms. The blossoms rest in small calixes and have distinct stamens as well. There remain some large bracts and occasionally developed leaves halfway down the flower stalks. The pods are slim, solid and leathery. They are from 7.5 to 15 cm. in length and bear about a dozen seeds. The leaves contain two or many pinnas. Each of the leaves bear a lot of small leaflets and give the tree a delicate, feathery appearance. There is a long, white, rising thorn at the base of each leaf stalk.
The Babul Tree has some very useful properties. When the grass is not very much available, people use the pods, seeds and young branches of this tree as fodder for cattle, camel and goats. Most of the parts of the tree have medicinal values. The bark is used for tanning and dyeing as it contains a strong and astringent acid. During the months of March and April, the gum that exudes from the bark can be used as an alternate for Gum The village people also eat it after mixing it with the seeds of `Sesamum`. People can make a soap substitute from a decoction of the bark and it has some medicinal values as well. The thorns of the `Babul` tree are very much popular in the offices as they can be used to pin sheets of paper together. The timber is solid, heavy and durable and very much suitable to put into as many uses as making wheels, oil and sugar presses and also the agricultural implements. It can make excellent fuel as well. The `Babul` tree is common in the forests of the Punjab
and Western India and has a rapid growth.