Black Grain
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Black Grain
A Native Photo: S. Kasim
Common name: Black Grain
Botanical name: Chamaecrista nigricans    Family: Caesalpiniaceae (Gulmohar family)
Synonyms: Cassia nigricans

Black Grain is an annual herb, upto 75 cm tall, velvet-hairy with short crisped and long spreading hairs. Leaves are alternate, distichous in two planes across the plane of branching; leaf-axis (including leaf-stalk) 5-9 cm long, velvet-hairy; leaflets 7-18 pairs, 1-2.5 x 0.3-0.6 cm, narrowly oblong or linear-oblong, blunt or rounded at tip, with a short sharp point, oblique at base, velvet-hairy; gland solitary, stalkless, 2-4 mm long, cushion-shaped, covering half to one-third upper part of leaf-stalk; stipules 4-6 mm long, linear-lanceshaped, tapering, velvet-hairy. Flowers are borne 2-5 together, supra-in leaf-axils; flower-stalks 1-3 mm long, velvet-hairy; bracts and bracteoles linear, pointed, velvet-hairy. Sepals 4-5 mm long, pointed, velvet-hairy outside. Petals are yellow or yellowish red, equalling the sepals. Stamens are 10, all fertile or rarely 3 reduced to staminodes; anthers of 3 different sizes, linear, splitting apically. Pods are 2-3 x 0.5 cm, erect, linear-oblong, flat, straight, velvet-hairy, 2-valved, 4 to 10-seeded, black to brown when ripe; valves coiling on splitting; seeds 2.5-3.5 x 1.5-2.5 mm, nearly round, obovate; areole absent; albumen thin. Black Grain is found in West Asia, Tropical Africa, India and Sri Lanka.
Medicinal uses: In Africa, an infusion of the leaves or aerial parts is taken against fever and malaria, and to treat stomach-ache, diarrhoea and worms. Externally, an infusion or decoction of the leaves is applied to wounds and abscesses as an antiseptic. The root is pounded with water and taken against diarrhoea, while in decoction it is taken as an anthelmintic. A decoction of the leaves is also taken as cough medicine, and is externally applied for itching. The pounded leaves in water are applied to ticks on humans and horses, while pounded leaves in palm oil are rubbed on the head to kill lice.

Identification credit: S. Kasim Photographed in Radhapuram, Tirunelveli Dist, Tamil Nadu.

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