Karamardika, also known as Carissa spinarum is a bushy, diffuse, evergreen shrub that I used for medicinal purposes. Karamardika is often seen in extensive undergrowths in forests dominated by bamboo, sal and teak of central India. This tree is also found in sub-Himalayan region and Andaman Islands. The names of this species vary from region to region in the Indian subcontinent. In Hindi Karamardika is popular as Karaunda, Karonda; in Kannada it is known as Chikkakaavali, Kavali while in Marathi it is called Karaunda, Karonda. In East Indian provinces like Orissa this Indian medicinal plant is recognised as Ankakoli. The Punjabis have named it Gan, Garaunda and Garji. Chiru, Chiru Kila and Kalachedi are the Tamil forms and Kalivi, Kalli and Kelivi are its Telugu forms.
The Karamardika is often grown as fences for its fragrant flowers and edible berries. This Indian medicinal plant rises upto 3.6 metres and has light grey, fibrous bark and rigid scattering branches with zig-zag branchlets armed with straight, 1.5-5-cm-long thorns. The leaves of Karamardika tree are 1.5-5 cm long and 1.2-4 cm wide, short petioled, broadly ovate, rhomboid or elliptic, coriaceous, apex acute and the base of the leaves are rounded.
The flowers of Karamardika are fragrant, white, sometimes tinged with pink, in axillary or terminal corymbose cymes. The corolla tube usually measures 1.2-2 cm long. The fruits of Karamardika are ovoid and almost 1.2 cm long, shining black or dark purple when ripe, containing almost 4 seeds. Flowers blossom between November and February in Central India.
Its roots are used as a purgative in combination with other ingredients. The ground roots are used to kill and prevent worm-infested sores in livestock. The flower, fruit and root of Karamardika tree are used to treat eye and ear disorders, vomiting, distaste, throat pain, body-ache, sweating and as a carminative.
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