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Sunday, August 8, 2010

THE KIKAR OR BABUL TREE

THE KIKAR OR BABUL TREE
The Kikar or Babul tree is a member of the acacia family of trees, and the variety here in Pakistan is the Acacia nilotica. It can grow up to 12 metres tall and spreads its branches, so is known as a parasol tree. In English it has several names, none of which I recognize; the Cape Gum, Cassie, Cockspur Thorn and Karoo Thorn among others. Its flowers don’t have nectar, but bees love the pollen from its yellow flowers, which are used as decorations .It has a rough red-brown through to almost black bark, and large fern-like leaves, which are light green. In dry periods it loses its leaves and the seed pods become prominent.
The Kikar or Babul tree is not used as food, although goats love its leaves and can be seen braving its thorns in their attempts to get at the delectable treats. The bark and seeds of the tree contain tannin, and decoctions of these are used to stop diarrhea. The leaves and bark can also staunch bleeding. It is a tree used in medicine, and is supposed to be especially good for male problems, such as premature ejaculation (the seed pods) and spermatorrhea. A decoction of the pods is used to dry up mucus in the bronchial tubes, so it’s good for colds and coughs. The gum from the kikar tree trunk and branches is used as a gargle to relieve sore throats and tonsillitis. It is also supposed to be a good aid to digestion.
The bark and twigs of the Babul tree are used in Pakistan as toothbrushes as it whitens the teeth and strengthens the gums, and teeth. In this respect it is like the Neem tree.
The Hindu god Shiva is sometimes depicted in the form of the lord of the Babul Tree, and it is associated with Krishna too. For Sikhs, this tree is a symbol of the spiritual seeker who has to deal with the barbs and arrows of unbelievers, and worldly people.
No part of this tree is eaten however, like the banyan tree, so no recipe follows. However you can try one of our recipes that stand alone, like Chicken Shahi, or Moussaka.

1 comment:

  1. I eat the Kikar leaves... is that bad? :')

    ReplyDelete

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