Balanites aegyptica

Balanites aegyptica (L.) Delile ( Balanitaceae)


Syn : Balanites roxburghii Planch, B. aegyptica var. roxburghii Duthie.

English names: Desert date, Soapberry tree, Thorn tree.

Sanskrit name: Ingudi.

Vernacular names: Ben and Hin : Hingan; Mar: Hinganbet; Tam: Nanjunda; Tel: Gari.

Trade name: Hingan.

Traditional use : TRIBES OF PANCH MAHAL (Maharashtra) and RURAL FOLK: Bark, Leaf, Fruit and Seed: as anthelmintic and purgative; Fruit: in boils, leucoderma and other skin diseases; Fruit-pulp: in whooping cough.

Modern use: Plant: cytotoxic and antitumour principle isolated; Bark: bactericide; EtOH (50%) extract of bark: spasmolytic; Seed-kernel oil: antimicrobial, useful in burns and ulcers, spermicidal.

Phytography : Spiny tree, about 6 m high; branches glabrous or puberulous and ending in very strong ascending spines; leaves alternate, bifoliate, ashy green, leaflets coriaceous; cymes axillary, 4- to 10-flowered; flowers green, velvety pubescent; fruits ovoid, about 5 cm in length, fleshy drupes, 1-seeded; seed oily but exalbuminou8

Phenology: Flowering: November, also during February to May; Fruiting: Winter.

Distribution: Bihar, Deccan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh (Kanpur) and Sikkim.

Ecology and cultivation: Xerophyte, found chiefly on black cotton soil; does not thrive in rocky areas.

Chemical contents: Plant: diosgenin and yamogenin; Root: steroidal sapogenin, diosgenin, yamogenin; Stem-bark: steroidal sapogenin, nitrogen glucoside, sesquiterpene, balanitol, bergapten; Leaf: 6 diosgenin glucosides; Fruit: steroidal sapogenin, yamogenin, 5 diosgenin glycerides, 6 diosgenin glucosides, diosgenin, balanitisins A, B, C, D & E; Seed: a saponin of diosgenin, non-edible fatty oil.

Remarks: Fruit-pulp is edible and used for cleansing silk and cotton. Fruit-shell is used in fire-cracker industry. Wood is chiefly used for making walking sticks and as fuel.