The name Arjuna conjures up the image of the Pandava brother Arjuna with bow and arrow riding on the chariot driven by Lord Krishna. The majestic evergreen tree lives up to the image with tough bark and delicate flowers and firm leaves depicting the character of Arjuna or Partha in the great epic Mahabharatha.
Other common name of Arjuna tree is White Marudah and botanical name is Terminalia Arjuna and belongs to Combretaceae (Rangoon creeper) family.
Regional names are Sadad in Hindi, Maiyokpha in Manipuri, Marutu in Tamil, Nirmarutu in Malayalam, Thella Maddi in Telugu, and Nirmatti or Kamarakshi in Kannada.
Arjuna tree is a large, deciduous tree, with a wide crown and branches drooping down. Mature trees have a buttressed trunk. It is native to South and Central India, West Bengal, and Myanmar and Sri Lanka. The tree grows to a height of 25 meters and the bark is smooth and grey. Leaves are dark green, oblong, large (4.5 cms in length and 2 – 4.5 cm wide).
Flowers bloom during April – June and are small and white. They bloom in long racemes.
During September and November appear the fruits, which are 2.3-3.5 cm long, green when young and turns brown as they mature. The Arjuna fruit has five hard wings, with numerous curved veins.
Arjuna tree is the most important tree in Ayurveda and Unani Systems of medicine since 7th century. Arjuna tree parts are used to prepare medication to treat pain, high cholesterol, hypertension, stress, nervousness, diabetes, fractures, ulcers, heart diseases, asthma, tumors, leucoderma, anemia, and so on.
The leaves of Arjuna tree is food to Antheraea Paphia moth. Tussah or Tussar silk is derived from this moth. Wood from this tree is used to make boats, houses, agricultural implements, and weapons. The trees are planted to line avenues and roads for shade and beauty.
The leaves are offered to Lord Ganesha during the 21 patra (leaves) pooja, while chanting the following mantra: “Om Surasevithaya namaha Arjuna Patram Samarpayaami”.
Propagation of Arjuna tree is by seeds.