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Monday, September 13, 2010

SHISHAM OR INDIAN ROSEWOOD TREE HISTORY AND USES

THE SHISHAM TREE OR INDIAN ROSEWOOD


The Shisham or Indian Rosewood tree is the symbol of the Punjab province of Pakistan. It is not a native to this area, but native to the area around the Himalayas. It was brought into the Punjab to be cultivated for use as timber and for fuel for steam trains. It is a much-prized tree, but is susceptible to a disease called ‘Dieback’ which is caused by fungi which target particular species. At the moment this is a cause for concern in Pakistan.

It is used to make furniture, and is valued for its durability and the attractiveness of the wood grain. You may have seen decorative boxes made from it but in Pakistan it is used for furniture and in the construction industry. Musical instruments are made from it too, as are the tubes for hookahs, walking sticks and artificial limbs. The bark and wood ash are used to make dyes, and it produces good charcoal.

It is second only to teak in the Punjab, as teak is more widely grown and more expensive. However the Shisham tree is also used in traditional medicine on the subcontinent, and it is believed that it can be beneficial to sufferers of many diverse illnesses.

Some women use the sap from the leaves to lighten their skin colour, and to get rid of dark patches on their skin. The juice from the leaves mixed with honey is said to relieve painful eyes, and if you were to drink 10-15 ml. of the juice it would instantly banish heartburn and indigestion. The powdered bark of the Shisham tree is used in decoctions to treat STDs and is also said to be good for leprosy. It has been found that rosewood oil can stimulate new cell growth, and regenerate tissues, so it could prevent too many wrinkles. The oil is also good for acne and is used in some perfumes.

The leaves, roots and bark can be used as a stimulant, and a decoction of the bark can be drunk to purify the blood, and if you put a paste made from the bark on boils and pimples, they will soon go.

Recent medical studies have shown that the Shisham tree has astringent qualities and can help to prevent heart diseases.

Unfortunately, you can’t eat it, like the other trees we’ve been writing about recently, the Neem tree and the banyan, for example. However why not try our Chicken Jal Frezi recipe?

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