Senna auriculata: Avaram

Family: Fabaceae
Common name: Avaram, Ranavara, Matura tea tree, Tanner’s cassia

Avaram is a small tree that can grow to a height of 5-6 meters, with beautiful yellow flowers, usually seen in the wild. It’s a legume tree of the family Fabaceae, characterized by long fruit pods containing multiple seeds. The tree can reach its full height in about 4 years, with a trunk diameter of about 10 cms.

The bark is greyish-brown in color and leaves are pinnately compound, each leaf having 16-24 small leaflets which are about 2 cms long. The beautiful yellow flowers are borne on racemes in large bunches sometimes having over 50 flowers in each bunch. The flowers are very unique with distinct sepals, 5 distinct petals and very prominent elongated stamens.

There would also be many buds in a bunch along with the flowers; small, rounded buds covered by sepals. Avaram flowers are bisexual, containing male and female reproductive organs in the same flower, making pollination easier. They then produce green seed pods that are about 10 cms long, containing 10-20 seeds in separate cavities inside the seed pod.

The seedpods turn brown on maturity before they open and release the seeds. Avaram plants are well-suited for landscaping, roadsides and for home gardens because of their bushy nature, tolerance to drought and pollution; and the beautiful flowers.

The wood is not thick enough to be used for timber, but can be used for making small wooden tool and handles. The trees are mainly used for tannins, 15-24% of the bark being made up of tannins. These are chemicals derived from tree leaves and barks, in powder or flake form; used in tanning leather, dyeing, photography, ink production and more.

Young leaves, flowers and seedpods are eaten raw or cooked, though most parts are slightly toxic to humans. Avaram leaves and flowers, dried or raw, are used to make tea and other beverages. The bark and flowers are used in producing dyes in different colors. Fibers obtained from the bark is used to make ropes.

Avaram branches and twigs are used as toothbrushes after lightly pounding the edges to make it fibrous. Avaram plants also have many medicinal uses, in treatment of liver diseases, diabetes, eye infections and rheumatism.

Propagation is from seeds, that have to be scoured slightly for ease of germination.

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