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Common Name : Black Catechu

Hindi Name : खैर | Scientific Name : Senegalia catechu
Family : Fabaceae
Uses : Catechu, obtained from the heartwood is an indispensible ingredient of 'paan', a slightly narcotic chewing mixture containing betel leaf (Piper betle) and betel palm seed. The seeds contain water-soluble mucilage (6.8%); they are a good protein source but are nutritionally incomplete with respect to essential amino acids. Black catechu is a bitter-sweet antiseptic and astringent herb, the leaves, young shoots and bark of which are often used to check bleeding and discharges. The plant is strongly astringent, encouraging clotting of the blood and reducing excess mucous in the nose, large bowel or vagina. It is taken internally in the treatment of conditions such as dysentery, chronic diarrhoea and chronic catarrh. The plant is traditionally grown in living fences in the northwestern Himalayas, where it helps to exclude livestock and other animals; mark out land boundaries.
Native: India and Southeast Asia
General Description:

It is a tree and grows primarily in the seasonally dry tropical biome. A small or medium-sized thorny tree, up to 15 m tall. Bark dark grey or greyish-brown, peeling off in long strips, or sometimes in narrow rectangular plates, brown or red inside. Branches slender, puberulous when young but glabrescent, with 2 curved, ca. 8 mm long prickles at the base of each petiole. Leaves bipinnately compound with 9-30 pairs of pinnae, and a glandular rachis; leaflets 16-50 pairs, oblong-linear, 2-6 mm long, glabrous or pubescent. Flowers in 5-10 cm long axillary spikes, 5-merous, white to pale yellow, with a campanulate 1-1.5 mm long calyx, and a 2.5-3 mm long corolla; stamens numerous, far exserted from the corolla with white or yellowish-white filaments. Fruit a strap-shaped pod, 5-8.5 cm × 1-1.5 cm, flat, tapering at both ends, shining brown, dehiscent, 3-10-seeded. Seeds broadly ovoid.