I remember collecting the fallen Bakula flowers with the scent intact and stringing it together into a garland. The tree was planted by my grandfather, whose hobby was to grow exotic trees and plants in a plot reserved for his hobby. Though the color of Bakula flowers is subdued, the garland looks lovely. The scent makes up for the lack of color.
The botanical name of Bakula is Mimusops Elengi and belongs to the family Sapotaceae. It is also known as Spanish cherry, Bullet wood, Indian Medlar, Surabhi / fragrant, Maulsari, and Madhu Gandha / sweet aroma. I was delighted to find this tree in full bloom in Jag Mandir Palace, Udaipur.
Bakula is an evergreen tree and grows all over India. It reaches to a height of 16 to 18 meters with a well-defined dense rounded canopy.
The fissured hard bark of the tree is dark grey. The leaves are smooth, pointed, shiny, and are 5 – 10 cm long and 3 – 5 cm broad. These features make it the much sought after tree for gardens.
Bakula tree flowers from March to June. Flowers are small around 2cm in diameter. They bloom either in solitary or in bunches. The environs fill with the heady fragrance of the Bakula flowers. A small crown rises from the center of the flower. By morning the ground near the tree will be full of fallen Bakula flowers but with fragrance intact. While falling from the tree, the flower twirls like a disc helped by the crown in the middle. The flowers are offered to gods. Jains and Buddhists consider Bakula tree as sacred.
The fruits of the Bakula tree are oval and are 2.5 cm long. The ripe fruits are sweet and are consumed by people. The fruit consists of one or two seeds.
There is a growing demand in the cosmetics industry for Bakula as it has valuable properties for skin and hair care. Bakula is one of the herbs mentioned in ancient Ayurvedic scriptures and has been used for centuries in India for medicinal purpose.
Leaves, bark, flowers, seeds, roots, fruits are used to treat various diseases especially dental disorders.
Bakula flower is offered to Lord Ganesha during the 21 Pushpa Pooja while chanting the below mantra: “Om Shaktiyuthaya Namaha Bakula Pushpam samarpayami”.