Cochlospermum religiosum – Silk Cotton tree – Ajaytao
Common name: Buttercup tree, Yellow slik cotton tree, Golden silk Cotton tree, Cottontree, Silk Cotton tree, Algodão-da-Índia, Portuguese: Capoquero blanco, Torchwood Tree,
Hindi: Galgal, Katira • Marathi: Ganeri गणेरी • Tamil: Kattupparutti • Konkani: Kondagogu • Bengali: Sonali simul • Kannada: Arasina buruga • Malayalam: Cempanni • Telugu: Konda gogu, Parapanji, Chembanji, Ganiar, Chaor, Ganer, Sonsawar, Golgol,
Botanical name: Cochlospermum religiosum (L.) Alston
Family: Bixaceae (Annatto family), (Lipstick-tree family)
Species: C. religiosum
Synonyms: Bombax gossypium, Cochlospermum gossypium, Maximilianea gossypium
Cochlospermum religiosum is a flowering plant from the tropical region of Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. Buttercup Tree is native to India, Burma and Thailand.
The botanical name has the following meaning – Cochlospermum because the seed resembles a snail. Religiosum because the flowers are used as temple offerings. It is also known as Silk-Cotton Tree because the capsules containing the seeds have a fluffy cotton-like substance similar to kapok. Another common name is Buttercup tree because its yellow and bright flowers look like large-sized buttercups. In Thailand it is the provincial tree of Nakhon Nayok Province.
Deciduous trees, to 10 m tall, It is a small tree usually found in dry deciduous forests. The bark is smooth and pale grey, bark 20-25 mm thick, surface dark grey, fibrous; branchlets thick. It is sparsely clothed with leaves and sheds them at the height of the flowering season. Leaves glabrous above, densely brownish tomentose below, the arrangement is alternate distichous, Leaf Base is Chordate. The leaves appear at the tips of the branches leaves simple, palmately 3-5 lobed, alternate, estipulate; petiole 6-20 cm long, stout, swollen at base, pubescent; lamina 5-15 x 7-20 cm, base cordate, lobes, elliptic or elliptic-lanceolate, tips acute or acuminate, margin entire or crenate, serrate, glabrous above, densely white tomentose below, coriaceous; 5-7 nerved from the base, palmate, lateral nerves 7-10 in each lobe, parallel, prominent, intercostae scalariform, faint.
The flowers of the Buttercup tree are the most conspicuous part of the tree. Flowers bisexual, buttercup shaped and bright yellow. The stamens are orange. Flowers with prominent sepals. They are large, growing upto about 7.5-10 cm across, bright yellow, in grey tomentose terminal panicles; sepals 5, 2.5 x 1.5 cm, unequal, obovate, densely tomentose, deciduous; petals 5, 5 x 3 cm, obovate, deeply emarginate, contorted; stamens many, inserted on an eglandular disc, shortly connate at base into 8-10 clusters; filaments 1.5-2.5 cm long; anthers linear, opening by apical slit; ovary superior, globose, glabrate, 3-5-celled, ovules many; style 1, to 1 cm, filiform; stigma somewhat lobed.
The fruits are brown and oval shaped. They come in the form of a capsule made up of five segments. The capsule splits open to release the seeds which are embedded in the silky cotton contained within. Fruits like a capsule, 6-8 x 4.5-5.5 cm, 5-valved, obovoid, pear shaped, straight, leathery, brown; seeds many, 6 mm long, black, curved, embedded in white cotton. This silky cotton is said to induce sleep when stuffed into pillows.
The flowering season is between February and April, particularly after the leaves are shed.
The flower is highlighted in one of the telugu rhymes which conveys that flowers will be on the top of the branches where moon only can pluck the flowers by climbing on a mountain.
“Chandamama raave, jabilli raave Kondekki raave, GOGU poolu theve”
The tree yields a gum, katira gum, which is insoluble in water but swells in it, and mixed with gum-arabic gives a water-borne adhesive paste. The gum has some value in cigar and ice-cream manufacture, and can be used as a substitute for gum tragacanth in various industrial processes. It is sweetish, cooling and sedative and helpful in cough medicine. The dried leaves and flowers are said to be stimulant. The floss surrounding the seeds is an inferior substitute for kapok. The seeds contain a non-drying oil reported in Indian material to amount to 14–15% and to be usable in soap-manufacture. The residual seed-cake is a suitable cattle concentrate, or can be used as a manure. The wood is soft, light and of little value. The bark contains a cordage fibre.
Gum is used for Book binding, Calico printing, Cosmetic industry, Cigar paste, Seed oil is used in soap making, Seed cake is used as Manure and cattle feed.
Seed-cake: Agri-horticulture: composting, manuring, Floss covering seed is used for Stuffing in Pillows, Mattresses Cushions, Life belts,
Wood is used as Fuel wood.
Gum Medicines: naso-pharyngeal affections; sedatives, etc. naso-pharyngeal affections; sedatives, etc. The gum extracted from bark is used in the treatment of Cough, Cooling effect
Seed: Phytochemistry: fatty acids, etc.