Location of Bhut Phal Plant
Bhut phal plant is generally scattered in its distribution, most commonly in dry and mixed deciduous forests or scattered in the forests where sal grows in profusion. The tree is also found in sub Himalayan hills up to 1800 metre elevation, particularly in north-western Uttar Pradesh and throughout peninsular India and the tree grows well in clay soils. Apart from its usage in medicinal purposes, it also serves as an ornamental in gardens where it is occasionally planted to enhance the beautification of particular verandah.
Description of Bhut Phal Plant
Bhut phal is a graceful tree and its size varies from small to medium. The plant has a smooth greyish white or black bark. The inner bark is red. Leaves are opposite, thin, coriaceous, glabrous and the upper surface of the leaf has a shining appearance. The glaucous lies beneath and are highly variable in size and shape, elliptic, oblong or ovate oblong, 3cm to 15 cm long and 2.5cm to 6.3 cm wide, apex acute or subacuminate. The young leaves are conspicuously acuminate, base acute or rounded, margins crenate serrate and the petioles are 1cm to 2 cm long.
Flowers of Bhut phal tree are greenish-white or yellow in colour and are borne in many flowered axillary. The dichotomously branched panicles are 7cm to 8 cm long; pedicels are slender; bracts are small, ovate and acute. The calyx are very deeply divided, lobes are unequal, orbicular and with membranous margins. The petals are 4 mm long, oblong and obtuse. Fruits are obovoid, apiculate, 0.8cm to 1.2 cm long, fleshy, yellowish-green in colour and are single seeded.
Uses of Bhut Phal Plant
Most part of Bhut phal is used in different ways to meet the need of human beings in curative purposes and various parts of the tree are used in traditional medicine. Though the root is emetic and can be fatal when taken internally in large doses still the medicinal properties related to it can not be denied by any means. The Gonds of Uttar Pradesh use the root bark extract orally for the treatment of rheumatism and gout, as well as a treatment of dysentery. The fruit paste of Bhut phal combined with that of Catunciregam spinosa (Rutaceae) and wheat flower is reportedly used to stimulate abortion.
Ayurveda incorporates the usage of the bark and flowers of Bhut phal to treat wounds, dysuria, burning sensations and hyperacidity. The practitioners of 'Sidhha' use the root of the plant as an antidote to snake bite. The application of mashed ground paste mixed with water is to relieve swellings. The Mundas of southern Bihar utilizes a paste of the stem bark externally and sometimes this is also used to treat snakebite. The dried leaves are crushed and reduced to powder is considered to have a strong sternutatory action, and are used as snuff to relieve headache. They are also used as a fumigatory for relieving hysteria. A decoction of the leaves of Bhut Phal is given in the treatment of eczema and other skin ailments.