Nagkesar seed oil

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fertiled flower
Raw fruit

Nagkesar oil is extracted from seeds of the nagkesar tree (Mesua ferrea, Hindi: नागकेसर). It belongs to the Calophyllaceae family. This handsome East Indian evergreen tree is often planted as an ornamental for its fragrant white flowers that yield a perfume and is the source of very heavy hardwood used for railroad ties.[1] It is the national tree of Sri Lanka.[2]

Common name in Indian languages[2][3][edit]

  • commonly known as: Ceylon ironwood, cobra's saffron, Indian rose chestnut, ironwood tree, mesua, poached egg tree
  • Hindi= नाग चम्पा (Nag champa, नागकेसर( Nagkesar )
  • Urdu= नर्मिश्क, Narmishka
  • Tamil= Tadinangu, நாகப்பூ( nagappu), நாகேசுரம் (nakecuram)
  • Marathi= Thorlachampa, नागचंपा (nagchampa), नागकेशर (nagakeshara)
  • Malayalam= (Vainavu, ചുരുളി (churuli
  • Assam= নোক্তে (Nokte )
  • Manipuri= নাগেসৰ (Nageshor )
  • Telugu=నాగకేసరము (nagakesaramu)
  • Sanskrit नागकेशर (nagakesarah), नागपुष्प( nagapuspah)
  • Kannada= ನಾಗ ಕೇಸರಿ( nagakesari), ನಾಗ ಸಮ್ಪಿಗೆ (nagasampige)
  • Bengali= নাগকেশর (nagkesar, পুন্নাগ (punnaga)
  • Gujarati= નાગચંપા( nagachampa)
  • Kashmiri= नागकेसर (nagkesarah)

Common name in other countries[4][edit]

  • English-: Ceylon ironwood, Cobra's saffron, Indian rose-chestnut, Iron-wood tree, Sembawang tree (Singapore).
  • Italian-: Croco di cobra.
  • German-: Nagassamen.
  • Arabic-: Narae-kaisar.
  • Russian-: Indiiskoe zheleznoe derevo, Mezua zheleznaia, Mezuia zheleznaia, Nagakeshara (from Hindi), Zheleznoe derevo.
  • Burmese-: Gungen, Kenga
  • Chinese- : Tie li mu, (Taiwan).
  • Japanese-: Tagayasan.
  • Thai- : Bhra na kaw, Bunnak (Boon naak), Ka ko (Karen), Gaa gaaw, Gam gaaw, Kam ko (Shan), Saan phee daawy, Saraphi doi (Chiang Mai).


It is a tall tree reaching up to 100 feet height.The tree is native to Sri Lanka, India, southern Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Indochina, the Philippines, Malaysia and Sumatra, where it grows in evergreen forests, especially in river valleys. In the Himalayas and India the tree can grow at the altitude up 1500 meters, and in Sri Lanka at 1000 meters altitude.[5] It is the only ironwood forest in the dry zone with wet zone vegetation.



It is a small to medium-size evergreen tree.Tree grows up to 13 m tall, often buttressed at the base with a trunk up to 90 cm in diameter. It has simple, narrow, oblong, dark green leaves of 7–15 cm long, with a whitish underside. The emerging young leaves are red to yellowish pink and drooping.[2] The wood is very hard, heavy & strong.The weight of the wood is about 72 lbs per cubic foot & density is 1.12ton/m3.[6] The root of the tree is used as an antidote for snake poison[7]


Flowers are terminal or axillary, bisexual, solitary or in an up to 9-flowered open panicle, pedicel with small paired bracts. Sepals 4 decussate, sub-orbicular, persistent and variously enlarged and thickened in fruit. Petals 4, white or pink. Stamens numerous, free or connate only at the base, ovary superior (1-2 celled) each cell with 1-2 axillary ovules. Style slender with a peltate to 4-lobed stigma. The flowers are 4-7.5 cm diameter, with four white petals and a centre of numerous yellow stamens.[8] The flowers have many uses - they are used to make an incense and also used to stuff pillows in some countries.[2] The flowers are acrid, anodyne, digestive, constipating, stomachache. They are useful in conditions like asthma, leprosy, cough, fever, vomiting and impotency. The seed oil is considered to be very useful in conditions like vata and skin diseases. Dried flowers are used for bleeding hemorrhoids and dysentery with mucus. Fresh flowers are useful remedy for itching, nausea, erysipelas, bleeding piles, metrorrhagea, menorrhagea, excessive thirst, and sweating.[9]


The fruit is a capsule, usually globule, often beaked, thinly woody, usually dehiscing with 2(-4) valves before falling, often exuding resinous droplets. One fruit contains 1-4 seeds. The generic name is after J. Mesue (777-857) and the specific epithet is from Latin meaning ‘belonging to iron’, in reference to its famed and very hard, durable timber.[8] Fruits are reddish,conical hard and ovoid.the dia of fruit is 3.0" and nearly woody.Fruits are ovoid,2.5 -5.0 cm long with persistent calyx.seed 1-4,dark brown,cotyledons fleshy,oily.[10] fruit weight vary from 50-60 grams each[11]


The fruit contains one round or three conical brown, shiny, seeds consisting of the kernel (cotyledons, 36.6%) within a fibrous outer cover (50% seed) and brittle shell (13.4%). Mesua ferrea seeds contained total lipid (66.91-70.23 g %), moisture (4.02-5.05 g %), ash (1.46-1.50 g %), total protein (6.99-7.19 g %), water soluble protein (2.98-3.11 g %), starch (5.51-5.85 g %), crude fiber (1.22-1.98 g %), carbohydrate (15.88-18.68 g %) and the energy value is 700.55-724.15 kcal/100 g.[12]

Physical properties and composition of oil[edit]

The major fatty acids in nagkesar oil are oleic acid, linoleic acid, stearic acid and palmitic acid. Polyphenols and volatiles can contribute an unpleasant odour to the oil. These include the 4-phenyl coumarins mesuol, mammeisin, mesuagin and mammeigin.[13]

Fatty acid composition of Oil[11][12]

Fatty acid percentage
Myristic acid (C14:0) 0.0-2.8
Palmitic acid (C16:0) 8.0-16.5
stearic acid (C18:0) 10.0-15.8
oleic acid (C18:1) 55-66
linoleic acid (C20:0) 0-1.0

Table-Physical properties of seed oil[12][14]

character Range/limit
Refractive Indexat, 400C 1.465-1.475
Iodine value 65-95
Saponification value 195-205
Moisture 1.0-1.5
Color 1/4" cell(Y+5R) 25-35
Unsaponifiable matter % 2.0-2.5

Uses of oil[edit]

  • Oil from the seeds has been used in the treatment of sores, scabies, wounds, and rheumatism. It has been attributed to have beneficial effects as a digestant, and to have anti-poisonous, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic and anti-helmintic activity. It has also been used in the treatment of fevers, itching, nausea, leprosy, skin disorders, erysipelas, bleeding piles, metrorrhagia, menorrhagia, excessive thirst, and sweating.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ironwood tree - definition of ironwood tree by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Mesua ferrea - Nag Kesar". Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  3. ^ "Nagakeshara (Sanskrit: नागकेशर) | Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr. 2008-01-20. Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  4. ^ "Nagkesar, abortifacient herb, herb inducing abortion, Mesua Ferrea, bitter herb, poisonous herb, making railway lines, hard timber". Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ [2][dead link]
  7. ^ "Herb Therapy - Ironwood Tree or Nagkesar". 2007-11-09. Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  8. ^ a b "Species Information". Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  9. ^ a b Chakrapani Ayurveda. "Nagkesar, Mesua, Mesua ferrea, Clusiaceae". Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  10. ^ Chakrapani Ayurveda. "Nagkesar, Mesua, Mesua ferrea, Clusiaceae". Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  11. ^ a b SEA HandBook-2009,By The Solvent Extractors' Association of India
  12. ^ a b c "Bulletin of the Chemical Society of Ethiopia". Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  13. ^ BALA, K.R.; T.R. SESHADRI (1971). "ISOLATION AND SYNTHESIS OF SOME COUMARIN COMPONENTS OF MESUA FERREA SEED OIL". Phytochemistry 10: 1131–1134. doi:10.1016/s0031-9422(00)89951-3. 

External links[edit]