Oroxylum indicum

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Oroxylum indicum
Oroxylum indicum Blanco1.219.png
Plate from book Flora de Filipinas, Gran edicion, Atlas I. by Francisco Manuel Blanco, 1880-1883? where name is Bignonia quadripinnata, Blanco.
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Bignoniaceae
Tribe: Oroxyleae
Genus: Oroxylum
O. indicum
Binomial name
Oroxylum indicum
  • Arthrophyllum ceylanicum Miq.
  • Arthrophyllum reticulatum Blume ex Miq.
  • Bignonia indica L.
  • Bignonia lugubris Salisb.
  • Bignonia pentandra Lour.
  • Bignonia quadripinnata Blanco
  • Bignonia tripinnata Noronha
  • Bignonia tuberculata Roxb. ex DC.
  • Calosanthes indica (L.) Blume
  • Hippoxylon indica (L.) Raf.
  • Oroxylum flavum Rehder
  • Oroxylum indicum Vent. nom. inval.[1]
  • Spathodea indica (L.) Pers.

Oroxylum indicum is a species of flowering plant belonging to the monotypic genus Oroxylum and the family Bignoniaceae, and is commonly called Indian trumpet tree,[3] oroxylum,[4] Indian trumpet flower,[5] broken bones,[6] Indian caper, scythe tree[7] or tree of Damocles.[8] It can reach a height of 18 metres (59 ft). Various segments of the tree are used in traditional medicine,[8] where it is known as Shyonaka or Sona Patha.[9]


The large leaf stalks wither and fall off the tree and collect near the base of the trunk, appearing to look like a pile of broken limb bones. The pinnate leaves are approximately 1 metre (3.3 ft) in length and comparably wide,[6][10] borne on petioles or stalks up to 2 metres (6.6 ft) in length, making this the largest of all dicot tree leaves, which are quadripinnate (leaflets display four orders of branching).[11]

The tree is a night-bloomer and flowers are adapted to natural pollination by bats.[6] They form enormous seed pods – the fruits – are up to 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) long that hang down from bare branches, resembling swords.[6][12] The long fruits curve downward and resemble the wings of a large bird or dangling sickles or swords in the night, giving the name "tree of Damocles".[8] The seeds are round with papery wings.[13]


Oroxylum indicum is native to the Indian subcontinent, the Himalayan foothills with a part extending to Bhutan and southern China, Indochina and the Malesia regions.[citation needed] In Vietnam, the tree is called núc nác (sometimes sò đo), and specimens can be found in Cat Tien National Park.

It is visible in the forest biome of Manas National Park in Assam, India. It is found, raised and planted in large number in the forest areas of the Banswara district in the state of Rajasthan in India. It is reported in the list of rare, endangered and threatened plants of Kerala (South India). It is also found in Sri Lanka.[14]


Oroxylum indicum lives in relationship with the actinomycete Pseudonocardia oroxyli present in the soil surrounding the roots.[15] Septobasidium bogoriense is a fungal species responsible for velvet blight in O. indicum.[citation needed]


Various segments of O. indicum, including leaves, root bark, heartwood, and seeds, contain diverse phytochemicals, such as prunetin, sitosterol, oroxindin, oroxylin-A, biochanin-A, ellagic acid, tetuin, anthraquinone, and emodin.[8][16] Several of the compounds are under preliminary research to identify their potential biological properties.[8]


The tree is often grown as an ornamental plant for its strange appearance. Materials used include the wood, tannins and dyestuffs.[17]

In marriage rituals[edit]

The plant is used by the Kirat, Sunuwar, Rai, Limbu, Yakha, Tamang in Nepal, the Thai in Thailand and the Lao in Laos.

In the Himalayas, people hang sculptures or garlands made from O. indicum (Skr. shyonaka) seeds from the roof of their homes in belief they provide protection.[18]

As food[edit]

Pickled caper-like flower buds of the scythe tree

It is a plant with edible leaves, flower buds, pods and stems.[19] The large young pods, known as Lin mai or Lin fa in Loei, are eaten especially in Thailand and Laos. They are first grilled over charcoal fire and then the inner tender seeds are usually scraped and eaten along with lap.[20] Known as karongkandai among the Bodos of north east India, its flowers and fruit are eaten as a bitter side dish with rice. It is often prepared with fermented or dried fish and believed by them to have medicinal uses. The pods also eaten by Chakma people in Chittagong hill tracts of Bangladesh and India. Its called "Hona Gulo 𑄦𑄧𑄚 𑄉𑄪𑄣𑄮" in Chakma language.

The plant is an important food item among the Karen people, who also appreciate it for its medicinal value. The flower buds are boiled and pickled. The young pods are cut open raw and the tender seeds inside, having the color and texture of lettuce leaves, are used in various local dishes.[21]

In traditional medicines[edit]

Oroxylum indicum seeds are used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines.[8] Root bark is one of the ingredients thought to be useful in compound formulations in Ayurveda and other folk remedies.[8][22][23]

In art[edit]

Kelantanese and Javanese peoples forge a type of keris in the shape of the plant's seed pod called the keris buah beko.[24]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The International Plant Names Index".
  2. ^ "Oroxylum indicum (L.) Kurz". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 31 Mar 2016 – via The Plant List.
  3. ^ A Review on the Taxonomy, Ethnobotany, Chemistry and Pharmacology of Oroxylum indicum Vent
  4. ^ "Oroxylum indicum". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  5. ^ "Ecoport".
  6. ^ a b c d "Broken bones tree". Flowers of India. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  7. ^ efloraofindia - Oroxylum indicum
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Chaudhary, AK; Singh, V; Chaudhary, A. K (2011). "A Review on the Taxonomy, Ethnobotany, Chemistry and Pharmacology of Oroxylum indicum Vent". Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 73 (5): 483–490. doi:10.4103/0250-474X.98981. PMC 3425058. PMID 22923859.
  9. ^ India Biodiversity Portal - Oroxylum indicum (L.) Kurz
  10. ^ Phillipps, Anthea (22 April 2012). "The Midnight Horror Tree". Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  11. ^ Corner, Prof. E.J.H. (1952). Wayside Trees of Malaya. Vol. 1. Singapore: Govt. Printing Office. p. 166.
  12. ^ Barwick M, van der Schans A (2004). Tropical and Subtropical Trees - An Encyclopedia. Portland: Timber Press. p. 304.
  13. ^ "Oroxylum indicum". eFloras.org. Dinghushan Plant Checklist, Chinese Academy of Science.
  14. ^ Theobald, W.L. (1981). Bignoniace. In: Dassanayake, M.D. and Fosberg, F.R. (Eds.). A Revised Handbook to the Flora of Ceylon. Amerind Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi.
  15. ^ Gu, Qiang; Luo, Hongli; Zheng, Wen; Liu, Zhiheng; Huang, Ying (1 September 2006). "Pseudonocardia oroxyli sp. nov., a novel actinomycete isolated from surface-sterilized Oroxylum indicum root". Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 56 (Pt 9): 2193–2197. doi:10.1099/ijs.0.64385-0. PMID 16957120.
  16. ^ Shah, R. C.; Mehta, C. R.; Wheeler, T. S. (1 January 1936). "131. The constitution of oroxylin-A, a yellow colouring matter from the root-bark of Oroxylum indicum, vent". J. Chem. Soc.: 591–593. doi:10.1039/JR9360000591.
  17. ^ O'Neill, Alexander; et al. (2017-03-29). "Integrating ethnobiological knowledge into biodiversity conservation in the Eastern Himalayas". Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 13 (21): 21. doi:10.1186/s13002-017-0148-9. PMC 5372287. PMID 28356115.
  18. ^ Storrs A, Storrs J (1990). Trees and Shrubs of Nepal and the Himalayas; page 200. Pilgrims Books House. ISBN 9747315432.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  19. ^ "ePIC - Detailed results from SEPASAL for oroxylum indicum".
  20. ^ Thai Dishes, Central Part And South Archived March 30, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Anti-Infectious Plants of the Thai Karen: A Meta-Analysis
  22. ^ Doshi, K; Ilanchezhian, R; Acharya, R; Patel, B. R.; Ravishankar, B (2012). "Anti-inflammatory activity of root bark and stem bark of Shyonaka". Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. 3 (4): 194–197. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.104434. PMC 3545239. PMID 23326090.
  23. ^ Jayaweera, D.M.A. (1981). Medicinal Plants (Indigenous and Exotic) Used in Ceylon. Part I (Acanthaceae – Burseraceae). National Science Council of Sri Lanka, Colombo.
  24. ^ Che Husna Azhari (2011). Artifak Sains Dan Teknologi Alam Melayu. Bangi, Selangor Darul Ehsan: Institute of the Malay World & Civilization, National University of Malaysia. Pages 24–25.