San: Nagapuspah, Nagakesarah;
Ben: Nagkesar, Nagesar;
Nagachempakam, Nanku, Vayanavu, Churuli, Eliponku;
Tam: Nagappu, Nanku;
Tel: Nagakesaramu, Gajapuspam; Mar,
Importance: Mesua or Ironwood tree, commonly known as Nagapushpam is an important medicinal plant which finds varied uses in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani. Leaves are used in the form of poultice which is applied to head in severe colds. Bark and roots in decoction or infusion or tincture is a better tonic and are useful in gastritis and bronchitis. Fixed oil expressed from seeds is used as an application for cutaneous affections, sores, scabies, wounds, etc. and as an embrocation in rheumatism. Dried flowers powdered and mixed with ghee, or a paste made of flowers with addition of butter and sugar, are given in bleeding piles as well as dysentery with mucus. They are also useful in thirst, irritability of the stomach, excessive perspiration, cough with much expectoration, dyspepsia, etc. Leaves and flowers are used in scorpion stings. Syrup of the flower buds is given for the cure of dysentery (Nadkarni et al, 1976). In Ayurveda, it is an ingredient of “Nagakeshara-adi-Churna”, used for bacillary dysentery and in “Naga Keshara Yoga”, for piles. In Unani system, the drug is an ingredient of large number of recipes like, “Jawarish Shehryaran” a stomach and liver tonic, “Hab Pachaluna”, an appetiser, “Halwa-i-supari pack” a general tonic, etc. (Thakur et al, 1989).
Distribution: The plant occurs in sub-tropical to tropical areas of East India, Andaman Islands and Western Ghats, upto an altitude of 1500m.
Botany: Mesua nagassarium (Burm.f.) Kosterm. syn. M. ferrea auct. non Linn. belongs to the family Clusiaceae. It is a medium sized to large evergreen tree, 18-30m in height and with reddish brown bark which peels off in thin flakes. Leaves are simple, opposite, thick, lanceolate, coriaceous, covered with waxy bloom underneath, and red when young, acute or acuminate and with inconspicuous nerves. Flowers are white, very fragrant, axillary or terminal, solitary or in pairs. Stamens are numerous, golden yellow, much shorter than the petals. Fruits are ovoid with a conical point surrounded by the enlarged sepals. Seeds are 1-4 in number, angular, dark brown and smooth (Warrier et al, 1995).
The flowers of Ochrocarpus longifolius are also sometimes referred to as Nagakesara. This tree is found in the West Coast of India (Thakur et al, 1989).
Agrotechnology: The plant prefers plains, riverbanks or places which do not experiences moisture stress for its luxuriant growth. Silty loam soil is suitable for its cultivation. The plant is propagated by seeds. Seed formation occurs in November-March. Seeds are to be collected and sown in seedbeds or polybags. 3-4 months old seedlings are used for transplanting. Pits of size 45cm cube are to be taken at a distance of 3-3.5m and filled with a mixture of 10kg FYM, sand and top soil and made into a mound. Seedlings are to be transplanted into small handpits taken on these mounds. FYM is to be applied twice a year. Regular irrigation and weeding are to be done. The tree flowers in the fourth year. Flowers can be collected, dried in the sun and marketed (Prasad et al,1997).
Properties and activity: Seed oil gives 4-phenyl coumarin analogues-mesuol, mammeigin, mesuagin, mammeisin and mesuone. Bark gives ferruols A and B. Heartwood gives xanthones- euxanthone, mesuaxanthones A and B and a tetroxygenated xanthone named ferraxanthone. Stamens give and -amyrin, -sitosterol, biflavonoids- mesuaferrones A and B, and mesuanic acid. Bark yields a lupeol-type triterpenoid also named guttiferol. Seed oil is rich in oleic, stearic and palmitic acids. Linoleic, arachidic and linolenic acids are also present.
Mesuaxanthones A and B and euxanthone are antiinflammatory, CNS depressant and antimicrobial. The essential oil from the stamens is antibacterial, antifungal, anthelmintic and that from fruit is antifungal. Oral administration of a compound preparation containing Mesua ferrea (flowers), Foeniculum vulgare (seeds), Curcuma zeodaria (tubers), Nigella sativa (seeds), Terminalia chebula (seeds) and T. arjuna (stem-bark) exhibited antiimplantation activity in rats. An Ayurvedic preparations containing M. ferrea has haemostatic and astringent properties and is particularly useful in uterine bleeding. Aerial part is CVS active, spasmolytic and diuretic. Phenol containing fraction of seed oil is antiasthmatic and antianaphylaxis. Bark is used as tonic after childbirth. Bark and unripe fruit is sudorific. Leaf and flower is an antidote for snakebite and scorpion sting. Flower bud is antidysenteric. Flower is stomachic and expectorant. Seed oil is antirheumatic. Unripe fruit and flower is astringent (Husain et al,1992).