THE KACHNAR plant is botanically termed as Bauhinia Variegata. It is also known as orchid tree, camels foot tree, and mountain ebony. It is a flowering plant specie native to Indian subcontinent and other parts of Southeast Asia which belongs to Fabaceae family.
It is widely distributed to China, Burma, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.. It is eye catching when it blooms because of its tempting fragrance and splendidness.
Some of the brief facts about Kachnar plant are enumerated as follows:
The tree is deciduous in nature. Its length ranges from small to medium i.e. 10-12 meters. The leaves of the plant are circular, broad and bilobed at the base and apex reaching 10 to 20 centimeters (cm) in length. The flowers are 8 to 12 cm in diameter with five petals. The color of petals varies from bright pink to white. There are essentially two species of Kachnar namely; Bauhinia variegata and Bauhinia purpure. These species are native to sub-tropical mountainous region of Pakistan and grow in abundance. The plantation period depends upon the species, region, availability of irrigation facilities, and rainfall of the region. Winter is the most suitable time for planting deciduous trees due to dormancy during that period and hence suffers less from damage.
Remedial importance of Kachnar
The Kachnar tree has been used in medicine since ancient times. The bark of the tree is used for making decoction to cure dysentery and skin diseases. It is also used to treat diarrhea and coughs. Traditionally, it is believed by practitioners that a decoction of the root can control obesity. Acetones, methanol extracted from the bark of Kachnar are very active adversary to some bacterial strains. It is also helpful in curing ulcers and asthma.
Kachnar as a source of food
The flower buds of the Kachnar tree are used as edibles in the northern areas of Punjab. They are scrumptious in taste and are cooked as a primary dish with meat. The flower petals seem odd being emerging from their green sheaths; having peculiar taste. It is widely used as an ingredient in many Pakistani, Indian, and Nepali cuisines. Traditionally, Kachnar curry is prepared by using chicken, which is very delicious. Although, when cooked young buds are eaten, they taste a little bit like liver.
Kachnar role in reducing environmental pollution and beautification
To reduce air pollution and make urban areas more attractive; the concerned authorities should take essential measures from environmentalists. Health of environment will be improved and urban areas also become pollution free through planting of native species of trees including Kachnar. Due to its versatility, helping to reduce allergy problems in the future, provide animal fodder, adding beauty to the highways.
It is a multipurpose tree that is planted along highways for the atmosphere and soil pollution safety in Pakistan. Most of the people in Pakistan are familiar with Kachnar tree especially those who live in sub-mountainous areas including Islamabad. It adds to the beauty of the cities because of its attractive colors.
The type of Kachnar tree found in Islamabad are light violet flowers. Apart from these some complete white flowers look like orchid flowers which bloom in February to March. The flower buds are regarded as a delicacy, despite its aesthetic value. Due to its limited availability in spring they are expensive.
In Pakistan there is need to plant more of these indigenous species like kachnar trees to combat environmental pollution and to improve urban areas due to industrialization and urbanization as Kachnar is a multi-purpose plant tree.
Kachar as source of income
Kachnar tree also provides opportunities to native people to get adequate income as it is a profitable source of income.
There are numerous benefits of versatile Kachnar plant that can be utilized to combat with issues pertaining to environment, food, income, medical and beautification of cities.