Shami or White kutch is a medium-sized tree, with white-pubescent branches and whitish bark, exfoliating in papery flakes, and marked at intervals by darker horizontal patches. Leaves are bipinnate, flowers are sessile, pale yellow to nearly white in peduncled spikes, fruits are flat, with a triangular beak at the apex, tapering at the base into a stalk. In northern and central India, flowers come out during the rainy season and fruits in winter and in Karnataka, flowers come out from March to June; fruits from August to February.
Shami or White kutch is found in moist localities in West Bengal
and central India. In southern India it is more common in thorn scrub and the dry deciduous forests of Karnataka
, Andhra Pradesh
and Tamil Nadu
. This plant is also known as saikanta in Bengali
, gonharea in Oriya
, chhikur in Hindi
and samee or shami in Sanskrit. The botanical name of this plant is Acacia polyacantha Willd.
Shami or White kutch is known for its immense medicinal properties. The astringent bark and heartwood are used in Ayurveda as a substitute for Acacia catechu to treat leprosy, pruritis, wounds, bronchial asthma and stomatitis. A decoction of the ground bark is used as a gargle to relieve sore throat and toothache, and the dried, powdered bark is applied externally to promote healing of ulcers. An infusion of the tender leaves is used as an astringent and remedy for diarrhoea
. The pods are used in the treatment of urino-genital diseases. The seeds are reported to have a hypoglycaemic effect.
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