The tree that treats many ailments
Mudilla is a tree often seen near water, particularly the sea. It
is medium-sized with smoothly curved branches. The bark is grey
with prominent scars. The leaves are large, glossy and dark green
and are found crowded in bunches at the ends of the branches.
flowers are fairly large (about 12cm wide) and have four thick,
waxy petals, with many pink tipped stamens. They open in the evenings
and emanate a pleasant scent. The Mudilla can be pink or white.
There is no flowering season. The fruits are four sided with distinct
straight edges. They float in and are dispersed by water.
wood of the tree is soft and white and is used by people to make
boats, cabinets and other furniture. The inner fittings of railway
carriages and carts are made of this wood. A tanning material is
also extracted from the bark.
Mudilla is also used for medicinal purposes. The bark has astringent
qualities and is used to treat diarrhoea.
seed is rubbed on a stone with water to make a paste which is then
applied on the sternum of children suffering from phlegm. The paste
can be combined with ginger juice for those suffering from bronchial
ailments. The roots and seeds have similarities in composition to
quinine and are used in treating malaria. The tree is rich in tannin
which can be used to stop bleeding. Fresh and dried Mudilla leaves
boiled in water for 15 minutes can refresh feet and hands.
The Buddha is said to have meditated under a Mudilla tree prior
to attaining enlightenment. When it began to rain heavily, a king
cobra is said to have spread its hood over the Buddha and given
Mudilla is also known as Midella and Diya Mudilla in Sinhalese.
In Tamil it is called Arattam. The common name is the Indian Oak.
The scientific name is Barringtonia racemosa or Barringtonia asiatica.
There are two varieties, the racemosa bearing pink flowers and the
asiatica bearing white flowers.
tree is indigenous to Sri Lanka and is found near estuaries, rivers
and lakes (racemosa) and on seashores, roadsides and in home gardens
(asiatica). In Colombo it can be seen near Galle Face and in the
premises of the Swimming Club.
Compiled by Ruk Rakaganno, the Tree Society of Sri Lanka.