Flower Gardening

Growing & Maintaining Palash – The Ayurvedic Boon

Popularly referred to as the ‘Flame of the forest’ because of the bright orange-colored flowers, this plant has high medicinal value. Every part of the plant finds usage and is therefore worshiped by Ayurveda medicos. The biological name of the plant is Butea monosperma and it is commonly known as Palash. In India, it is found widely in the states of Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal & Orissa. Around 18,000 species of the family have been identified to date worldwide.

Climatic Conditions

The Palash grows best in tropical and sub-tropical climate where temperature normally ranges between 35 to 47 degrees centigrade. It is capable of bearing very low temperature up to 2.5 degrees. Since this plant requires a good amount of rainfall, it grows best when it is around 700 to 1900 mm. The sacred tree is slow in terms of growth and can grow to only a few feet per year stretching to a maximum of 5 to 8 ft on attaining the full maturity period of 50 years. Its demand for sunlight is moderate and though it can grow in densely shaded areas, growth would be restricted.

Soil

Like the mango tree, Palash requires soil which is swampy and saline and can hold water. Therefore, it grows best in the black cotton soil which is ill-drained. No wonder it can even grow in water-logged areas. Also, the soil should be alkaline with the pH value ranging from 8.0 to 9.2. It can even grow in dry areas provided it is not arid.

Sowing & Land Preparation

Freshly harvested seeds are the most viable source of plant reproduction. For best results, the seeds can be soaked in water before sowing. Before planting the seeds, the field should be well-ploughed to prepare the land. Also, the land should be treated with a good amount of manure to increase fertility. The beds to sow the seeds should be around 2.5 cms deep and the seeds should be sown at a distance of 20-30 cms, each row around 10 cms apart. After planting the seeds and covering it with soil, it needs immediate irrigation.

Growth & Harvesting

Normally, the seeds start germinating in two weeks time and by the third or fourth week, the little plants are ready to be transplanted in rows which should be at least 5 meters apart. The plant grows well without using fertilizers though the weed is recommended in the early stage. However, the next weed process can be done at a gap of two years. The fruit pods ripen during the summer season i.e between May – June post which they can be harvested.

Pests & Their Control

The most common danger to the young seeds & plants is from cattle. The rats & porcupines also present an imminent danger of damage to the plant since they feed on fleshy roots. Insects can also harm the sapling. The pests can be controlled by spraying any good pesticide.

Post-Harvest Care

Be it the fruits, leaves or barks, post-harvest adequate care should be taken to dry them in the shade & store in a cool, dry place for effective utilization. The sacred tree if grown properly & patiently can prove to be a treasure for healthy living.

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