Sunday, April 22, 2012

Philippine Narra in Bloom

Abe V Rotor

Narra - Pterocarpus indicus - is the Philippine national tree. Its wood is highly prized for furniture and construction material. Its cutting is totally banned. The tree grows to 33 meters nigh and 2 meters in diameter with an irregular fluted trunk. Its leaves are compound, pinate, 15 to 30 cms long, ovate to elliptic in shape, with 5 to 9 leaflets per leaf. It blooms from February until May. The flowers are numerous, and in clusters, yellow and fragrant. Fruit is disc-shaped, flat, with winged margins, for which it got its genus name.
There are folkloric uses of narra, among are the following:
- The young leaves and flowers are reportedly edible; the flowers are a good source of honey.
- The young leaves applied to boils, prickly heat and ulcers.
- Infusion of the leaf used as shampoo.
- Used for bladder ailments, diarrhea, headache, stones, sores and dropsy.
- Decoction used as a gargle for sore throats; as an astringent; as a mouthwash for toothaches.
- The resin "kino" has similar actions as tannin and catechu. It is taken for its astringent effect in chronic diarrhea, leucorrhea, blenorrhea and hemorrhages.
- Used as a solution for enemas for prolapse of the rectum and anal fissure.
- Also a source of red dye and a gum.

References: Philippine Medicinal Plants by Godofredo Stuart; Medicinal Plants of the Philippines by Eduardo Quisumbing; and Plants of the Philippines by William H Brown. Photo by Abe V Rotor.

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