(Last Updated on : 07/12/2013)
Indian Cherry or Bahuvaraka is a common medicinal plant in southern India and its botanical name is Cordia dichotoma. Bahuvaraka's English names are Clammy Cherry, Indian Cherry and Sebesten Plum and it has numerous names in different native Indian languages, as well. The Bengali speaking people call the plant as Bahubara, Bohari, Bohodari, Buhul or Lashora and in Gujarati; it is popular as Barghand, Gundi, Gundo and Vadgunda. Apart from Bhokar, the plant is also known as Chhotalasora and Gondi, Guslasah, Lasora and Rassala, in Hindi. The people speaking Marathi know the plant in the names of Bhokar, Chokri, Sherti, Shelu and Shelvant. Other than Bahuvaraka, the Sanskrit names of the plant include Bukam-Padaruka, Selu and Slesmataka. While the Tamil speaking people name the plant as Kalvirusu, Naruvili, Vidi, Viriyan or Viruvu; it is named as Botuka, Chinna, Inki, Iriki, Nakheri and Nakkeru, in Telugu.
The medium-sized evergreen tree, Bahuvaraka or Indian Cherry has a height of about 14 m and it has a crooked stem and smooth greyish bark. The plant's leaves are alternate and borne on short spurs, and they usually vary in form and size. They vary from elliptic-lanceolate to broadly ovate and have a usual length of 5-10 cm and width of 2.5-6 cm. The apex is obtuse to acute, and the base is obtuse to round. The margins of the leaves are entire or crenate, while the petioles are slender and 1.3-3.4 cm long. The flowers of the plant have a dull white colour and they are borne in many-flowered, lax terminal axillary cymes. The fruits of Indian Cherry are glossy, yellowish-brown, pinkish or nearly black when ripe and usually contain a single seed surrounded by a transparent, sticky, sweet edible pulp. The plant generally flowers from March to April and fruits from May to June. Indian Cherry or Bahuvaraka grows naturally from in southern India and is quite common in semi-deciduous forests throughout India to an elevation of about 1000 m.
There are many medicinal properties and usages of Bahuvaraka. The fruits of the plant are considered anthelmintic and bechic in Ayurveda. Hence they are used as an expectorant and astringent. They are also considered useful for treating all diseases related to the lungs. In Unani medicine, the Indian Cherry fruits are considered to be anthelmintic, diuretic, expectorant, purgative, maturant and vulnerary. They are used for treating dry cough, diseases of the chest and urethra, in biliousness and chronic fever, joint pains and diseases of the spleen, as well.
The inhabitants of Bhadrak District in Orissa take the fruit juice orally as a 'blood-purifier'. A mixture of the powdered seed kernel and oil is also applied externally in the treatment of ringworm. Apart from that, the leaves of Bahuvaraka are applied externally for getting relief from ulcers and headache and the Santhals use the powdered bark as an external application for treating prurigo. A mixture of the bark juice of the plant and coconut milk is also used for relieving griping. A decoction of Indian Cherry bark is considered useful for the relief of dyspepsia and fevers, as well.