Paradise Tree
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Paradise Tree
E Introduced Photo: Ashutosh Sharma
Common name: Paradise Tree, Bitterwood, Dysentery-bark • Kannada: ಲಕ್ಷ್ಮೀತರು Lakshmitaru
Botanical name: Simarouba glauca    Family: Simaroubaceae (Quassia family)
Synonyms: Quassia simarouba, Simarouba officinalis

Paradise Tree is an evergreen, small to medium-sized tree growing up to 15 m in height, with a narrow crown, well-developed root system, and straight, cylindrical bole that can be at least 30 cm in diameter. The leaves are arranged alternately, are odd pinnately compound, up to 40 cm long, with 10-20 leaflets. The leaflets are up to 10 cm in length, dark green above, lighter below, with an entire margin and rounded leaf tip. Flowers are arranged in at branch-ends and in leaf-axils, in panicles. The calyx has 5 unfused, greenish sepals. The flower has 5 free yellowish-white overlapping petals. Male flowers have 10 stamens and no ovaries. Female flowers have 10 nonfunctional stamens and 5 unfused ovaries each with a single locule and seed. Occasionally there are perfect flowers produced on either the staminate or carpellate trees. The fruit is an oval purple/black drupe at maturity. The fruits can be eaten raw but are of inferior quality. The seed produces edible oil used in the preparation of bakery products and for industrial purposes. Seed shells can be used in the manufacture of particle board, activated charcoal, or as fuel. The wood is used for interior construction, boxes and crates, furniture, veneer, etc. It is also used for fuel. Paradise Tree is found in Central America.
Medicinal uses: The leaves and bark of Paradise Tree have a long history of medicinal use in the tropics, particularly in the treatment of malaria, fevers and dysentery; as an astringent to stop bleeding; and as a tonic. They are also used as a digestive, emmenagogue and to treat parasites both within and on the body. Research has discovered a range of medically active compounds in the plant. The main active compounds are a group of triterpenes called quassinoids.

Identification credit: Ashutosh Sharma Photographed in cultivation at TNAU, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu & Jhrakhand.

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