Characteristics of Parijat Tree (Nyctanthes arbor-tristis) in the Wild

Nyctanthes arbor-tristis
Parijat or Night-flowering jasmine (Nyctanthes arbor-tristis) is a species of Nyctanthes native to South and Southeast Asia. The tree is sometimes called the “tree of sadness” because the flowers appear to wither and fall off during the day. The scientific name arbor-tristis also means “sad tree”.

The flowers can be used as a source of yellow dye for clothing. The flowers are called Gangaseuli and Jharaa sephali in Odisha, India. While internationally, the name is better known as Night-flowering jasmine or Coral jasmine.

In Borok Tipuri culture, parijat is associated with the cycle of life, namely birth, and death.

Parijat leaves have been used in Ayurvedic and Homeopathic medicine to treat sciatica, arthritis, fever, and as a laxative.

HISTORY OF THE RARIJAT TREE

Parijat appears in several Hindu religious stories and is often associated with Kalpavriksha. In one of the stories from Hindu mythology, which appears in the Bhagavata Purana, Mahabharata, and Vishnu Purana, parijat appears as a result of Samudra manthan (Shaking of the Milky Way) and Krishna fighting with Indra to win parijat.

Subsequently, his wife Satyabhama demanded that the tree be planted in the backyard of his palace. Even though the parijat tree was planted in the backyard, its flowers fell in the adjacent courtyard with another queen Rukmini, who was Krishna’s favorite, due to her high devotion and humility.

This is the subject of a prabandha named Parijatapaharanamu in Telugu literature written by Nandi Thimmana, the court poet of Krishnadevaraya.

 

Characteristics of Parijat Leaf

Nyctanthes arbor-tristis Leaf
Source: flickr.com/Nelindah

The leaves are simple, short-stemmed, opposite, and leathery. The petiole is up to 10 mm long. The leaves are rough, scaly, slightly short hair on top and slightly hairy on the bottom, oval in shape, all edges have sharp serrations. Each leaf is 15-25 cm long and 13-20 cm wide. The base of the leaf is rounded to slightly heart-shaped or truncated.

Its leathery leaves can be used to polish wood, stone, and ivory.

 

Characteristics of Parijat Flower

Nyctanthes arbor-tristis Flower
Source: inaturalist.org/elavarasan_mm

Parijat flowers are very fragrant, orange-white, short-stemmed, and double-layered. The flowers open at night and the crown usually falls to the ground at sunrise.

The flowers can be extracted to obtain a yellow dye and an essential oil similar to jasmine oil.

The parijat flower is the official flower of the state of West Bengal, and the Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand.

 

Characteristics of Parijat Fruit

Nyctanthes arbor-tristis Fruit
Source: flickr.com/Nelindah

Parijat fruit is about 2 cm in size, heart-shaped upside down to rounded, and has two seeds. The fruit splits open with the remaining petals forming. They split in the middle in the transverse direction into partial fruits that do not open.

 

Characteristics of Parijat Tree

Nyctanthes arbor-tristis Tree
Source: flickr.com/Dinesh Valke

Parijat grows as a shrub or as a small tree with a height of about 5-8 meters.

All parts of the parijat tree are useful in traditional medicine, especially the leaves, flowers, and fruit.

In addition, the parijat tree is also often planted in the yard of the house as an environmental fragrance.

 

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