Hydnocarpus wightianus

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Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Achariaceae
Genus: Hydnocarpus
Species: H. wightianus
Binomial name
Hydnocarpus wightianus

Hydnocarpus wightianus or chaulmoogra is a tree in the Achariaceae family. Hydnocarpus wightiana seed oil has been widely used in Indian medicine and Chinese traditional medicine for the treatment of leprosy. It entered early Western medicine in the nineteenth century before the era of sulfonamides and other antibiotics for the treatment of several skin diseases and leprosy.[2] The oil was prescribed for leprosy as a mixture suspended in gum or as an emulsion.[3][4]

Common names[edit]

Common name: Jangli almond

  • Hindi: कालमोगरा Calmogara, Chalmogra, Chaulmoogra,[5] Jangli badam
  • Kannada: Chalmogra yenne mara, Mirolhakai, Surti, Suranti, Toratti, Garudaphala
  • Malayalam: Kodi, Maravatty, Marotti, Nirvatta, Nirvetti
  • Marathi: Kadu Kawath
  • Sanskrit: Tuvaraka, Turveraka, Tuvrak, कुष्टवैरी Kushtavairi
  • Tamil: Maravetti, Maravattai, Marotti
  • Telugu: Niradi-vittulu


In India: It grows in tropical forests along western Ghats, along the coast from Maharashtra to Kerala, Assam, Tripura, often planted on road sides in hilly areas.

Other countries: The tree is found in South East Asia, chiefly in Indo Malayan region. cultivated in Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Uganda.[6]


This is a semi-deciduous tree which grows up to 10 m (33 ft) tall. Bark is brownish, fissured; blaze pinkish. Branch lets are round, minutely velvet-hairy. Leaves are simple, alternate, carried on 0.7–2.2 cm (0.28–0.87 in) long stalks. Leaves are 8 cm–23 cm × 3.5 cm–10 cm (3.1 in–9.1 in × 1.4 in–3.9 in), usually oblong to elliptic-oblong, tip long-pointed, often falling off, base narrow, margin toothed, papery, hairless. Midrib is raised above, secondary nerves 5−7 pairs. Its flowers have greenish white petals and are borne in short cymes or racemes, or sometimes appear by themselves in leaf axils. The flowering takes place from to January to April. Its berries are woody, round, tomentose, about 6–10 cm (2.4–3.9 in) in diameter, and start off black when young but become brown when they mature. They have numerous seeds.[5][6]

Trees of the species that yield Chaulmoogra oil grow to a height of 12–15 m (39–49 ft) and in India trees bear fruits in August and September. The fruits are ovoid some 10 cm (3.9 in) in diameter with a thick woody rind. Internally they contain 10-16 black seeds embedded in the fruit pulp. The seeds account for some 20% of the fruit weight. A typical tree produces 20 kg (44 lb) of seed/annum. The kernels make up 60−70% of the seed weight and contain 63% of pale yellow oil (mukherjee).


The oil is unusual in not being made up of straight chain fatty acids but acids with a cyclic group at the end of the chain.[7] Seeds are ovoid, irregular and angular, 1 to 1 1/4 inches long, 1 inch wide, skin smooth, grey, brittle; kernel oily and dark brown. A fatty oil is obtained by expression, known officially as Gynocardia oil in Britain, as Oleum Chaulmoograe in the U.S.[8]


Chaulmoogra oil was commonly used in the early 20th century for the treatment of leprosy, used as intravenous injections. As leprosy has for some time been known to be a bacterial disease, it is no longer used in its treatment. In modern times multidrug therapy, employing a number of antibacterial drugs, is used and remains highly effective: people are no longer infectious after the first monthly dose.


  1. ^ Rumphia 4: 22. 1849. See IPNI [late Oct 1849]
  2. ^ Norton, SA (October 1994). "Useful plants of dermatology. I. Hydnocarpus and chaulmoogra". Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 31 (4): 683–6. doi:10.1016/s0190-9622(08)81744-6. PMID 8089304.
  3. ^ Cottle, Wyndham (June 28, 1879). "Chaulmoogra Oil in Leprosy". The British Medical Journal. 1 (965): 968–969. doi:10.1136/bmj.1.965.968. JSTOR 25251370.
  4. ^ Parascandola, J (2003). "Chaulmoogra oil and the treatment of leprosy". Pharmacy in history. 45 (2): 47–57. CiteSeerX PMID 12894769.
  5. ^ a b "Hydnocarpus pentandrus - Jangli Almond". Flowersofindia.net. Retrieved 2013-11-21.
  6. ^ a b SEA HandBook, 2009 by the Solvent Extractors' Association Of India
  7. ^ "Minor oil crops - Individual monographs (Allanblackia-Almond-Chaulmoogra-Cuphea spp.-Jatropa curgas)". Fao.org. Retrieved 2013-11-21.
  8. ^ "A Modern Herbal | Chaulmoogra". Botanical.com. Retrieved 2013-11-21.