Mesua ferrea

Mesua ferrea

Mesua ferrea (Ceylon ironwood, Indian rose chestnut, Cobra's saffron or locally, Penaga Lilin or Nahar) is a species in the family Clusiaceae. The plant is named after the heaviness of its timber and cultivated in tropical climates for its form, foliage, and fragrant flowers. It is native to tropical Sri Lanka, Assam, southern Nepal, Indochina, and the Malay Peninsula.

It is a small to medium-sized evergreen tree up to 13 m tall, often buttressed at the base with a trunk up to 90 cm in diameter. It has simple, narrow, oblong, dark green leaves 7-15 cm long, with a whitish underside; the emerging young leaves are red to yellowish pink and drooping. The flowers are 4-7.5 cm diameter, with four white petals and a centre of numerous yellow stamens.

The National Ironwood Forest is a 96 ha (238 acre) forest in Sri Lanka where Mesua ferrea trees dominate the vegetation. It is said that during King Dappula IV's period (8th century AD) this forest was created and the remaining trees are the shoots of it. Hence it is considered the oldest manmade forest in Sri Lanka. According to botanists this is the only ironwood forest in the dry zone with wet zone vegetation.

Symbolism and uses

It is the National tree of Sri Lanka. The wood is very heavy, and is used for railroad ties and structural timber. Its resin is slightly poisonous, but many parts have medicinal enhances the complexion.It leads to fragility transparency to the skin.

See also


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