Neolamarckia cadamba: Cadamba

Family: Rubiaceae
Common name: Cadamba, Kadam, Burflower-tree, Laran, Leichhardt pine

Cadamba is a tropical, fast-growing tree species that is native to South and Southeast Asia and is particularly prevalent in countries like India, Myanmar, and Thailand. The tree possesses several distinct characteristics, making it an intriguing species for gardening enthusiasts, while also holding medicinal value.

The Cadamba tree is known for its large size, reaching heights of up to 40 m. It features a straight trunk with a greyish-brown bark that is smooth when young but becomes rough and fissured with age.

The leaves of the Cadamba tree are simple, alternate, and spirally arranged. They are broad, ovate or elliptical in shape, and possess a smooth texture. The foliage is dense and provides a vibrant green canopy, making it an excellent shade tree for gardens and parks.

The striking flowers produced by the Cadamba tree add to its appeal. The flowers are bright yellow or orange in color and grow in large, spherical clusters known as umbels.

These inflorescences can measure 5-7 cm in diameter and are highly attractive to bees and butterflies. The blooming period typically occurs during the summer months, enhancing the beauty of the tree.

Following successful pollination, the Cadamba tree bears fruits that are round, woody capsules, measuring approximately 2-4 cm in diameter. The capsules contain numerous tiny seeds embedded in a white, cotton-like pulp. As the capsules mature, they turn brown and split open, releasing the seeds, which are dispersed by wind and water.

Gardening enthusiasts appreciate the Cadamba tree for its ornamental value and ease of cultivation. It thrives in tropical and subtropical climates, preferring full sun or partial shade.

The tree is adaptable to a wide range of soil types, including sandy, loamy, and clay soils, though they prefer well-drained soil with moderate fertility. Adequate watering during the initial stages of growth is crucial for establishing a healthy tree. Once established, the Cadamba tree is relatively drought-tolerant.

In traditional medicine, various parts of the Cadamba tree are utilized for their medicinal properties. The leaves are used in poultices to treat skin ailments, such as wounds and ulcers. They are also known to possess antimicrobial properties.

The bark is used in the treatment of diarrhea, dysentery, and other gastrointestinal disorders. Additionally, the tree’s flowers are believed to have cooling properties and are used in the treatment of fever and headaches.

Leaves can be used as serving plates, and the roots are used to produce yellow dye. The fragrance of the flowers make them useful in making essential oils and perfumes.

Wood of the Cadamba tree is not very durable and is hence used in construction of paper, boxes, crates, and furniture components. In addition to these, the Cadamba tree has many religious and mythological significances in India, considered to be the favorite tree of Lord Krishna.

Propagation of the Cadamba tree can be achieved through seeds and stem cuttings. The most common method is through seeds, which should be collected from mature fruits and sown in well-prepared beds or pots. Germination typically takes 2-4 weeks, and the seedlings can be transplanted once they reach a height of 15-20 cm.

The tree can also be propagated through stem cuttings, which should be treated with rooting hormone and planted in a suitable rooting medium.