Family:  Fabaceae

Synonyms: Robinia pringlei,Robinia pendula,Robinia pyramidalis.

Common Name: Black Locust

Local Name:   Rumeunii (रुमेउनी)

Rumeunii is a spiny, rapidly growing deciduous tree of Western Himalaya with an open, irregular crown. It is seen growing in woods and thickets up to an altitude of 2000 m in natural habitat. Plant is also planted along roadsides as an ornamental tree, in Western Himalayas. It is native tree of the southeastern United States and is propagated by seeds.

 All parts of the plant (except the flowers) and especially the bark, should be considered to be toxic 1,2,3. In spite of that seed, young pod and flowers of rumeunii are edible and eaten after through cooking, as cooking destroys toxin present in this plant. Flowers are used to prepare rayata, jam and kachru for their aroma and harnessing their medicinal value. Plant is mainly eaten by local as a tonic.  

A plant of rumeunii with mature seed pods

is a source of food, fodder, fuel, wood and material for the inhabitants of Western Himalayas, they harvest this plant from wild habitat for their local personal use. Rumeuni is sometime grown as an ornamental tree along roadsides and margins of cultivated land as wind breaker. Being member of family Fabaceae, it is excellent in fixing atmospheric nitrogen and capable of enhancing soil fertility. Local people are of opinion that honey produced from rumeuni flowers is of high quality and rich in medicinal value.

Rumeuni tree is of enormous importance for the inhabitants with respect to its multifarious use  of  food, medicine, wood, fuel. fodder and its role in honey production, erosion control, soil improver, shade/shelter provider etc, so plant need to be domesticated in large scale or planted by forest department in community land or government land around villages to harness its maximum potential. 

Rumeunii Plant:

Rapidly, growing, medium- sized deciduous trees growing upto15 – 30 meters tall

The bole is often forking, slightly angled, and often crooked, with a diameter of 30 – 76cm..

Close -up of Rumeunii seed [pods

Leaves are imparipinnately compound; leaflets 9-19, elliptic to oval, entire; glabrous above, puberlous on the nerves beneath; stipules spinescent, up to 2 cm long.

Flowers 1.5 cm long, dull- white, fragrant, in axillary racemes, up to 20 cm long.

Fruits are glabrous, 7-9 cm long, flat.

Rumeunii can best provide edible flowers and fruits from summer to autumn season of the year. Plant need to be domesticated in large scale for ensuring sustainable development.

Dried seed pods

Edible Uses

Seed, pods and flowers of rumeunii are edible and eaten cooked. Seeds are boiled and eaten like a pulse. Young seedpods are cooked as vegetable, Flowers are made into Kachru along with spices and basen a traditional dish taken as snack with tea. Flowers are also boiled and used to prepare rayata. Fried flowers are used in jam making.

Rumeunii seeds,

Vegetable of rumeunii Seeds:

Ingredients:

Rumeunii seeds, 1 kg; chopped medium sized potato 2-4; mustard oil, 3-4 table spoons; coriander powder, 1 table spoon; fenugreek powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seed, 1 tea spoon;  turmeric powder, 1 table spoon; red chilies, 2-3; chopped medium sized onions 2-4; garlic, 4-5 cloves; ginger paste ½ table spoon, chopped tomato, 1-2;  and salt, according to taste.

Rumeunii seeds collected for cooking

Method:

Boil rumeunii seeds to remove toxicity and saute boiled seeds alone or with  with chopped potatoes and spices listed above in sequence. Add 4 -6 cup amount of water and if potatoes are added then cook till potatoes become soft.  Add to it GARAM MASALA and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with rice or chapattis.

Daal of Rumeunii seeds ready to seve

Rumeunii young pod vegetable:

Ingredients:

Rumeunii young pods 1 kg; chopped medium sized potato 2-4;  mustard oil, 3-4 table spoons; coriander powder, 1 table spoon; fenugreek powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seed, 1 tea spoon;  turmeric powder, 1 table spoon; red chillies, 2-3; chopped medium sized onions 2-4; garlic, 4-5 cloves; ginger paste ½ table spoon, chopped tomato, 1-2;  and salt, according to taste.

Method:

Put oil in a pan and sauté chopped young pods with chopped potatoes and spices listed above in sequence. Cook till these are sof. Add to it GARAM MASALA and garnish with coriander leaves then serve with chappatis.

Kachru of rumeunii flowers:

Kachru is most common preparation of rumeunii flowers and is prepared by making a paste of flowers with besan or corn flour and mixing it with spices.

Ingredients:

 For preparing 1/2 kg flower Kachru ingredients one will need 250g besan (black gramflour) or corn flour,1 cup fresh coriander leaves (chopped), 3-5 green chillies, ½ table spoon turmeric powder, 1/2 table spoon caraway, 2-3 medium sized chopped onions and salt according to taste.

Method;

Make a paste of flowers with besan or corn flour and mixing it with spices.Heat some oil on a flat cooking pan and spread paste on it. Heat for 15-20 minutes occasionally turning it to other side and kachru will be ready. Serve hot with tomato sauce or some other ketchup.

Rayata of rumeunii flowers:

Ingredients:

1/2 kg fresh flower, 1 Kg curd, 1 cup fresh coriander leaves (chopped), 3-5 green chilies, a pinch of black pepper powder, 1 table spoon rai powder, 2-3 medium sized chopped onions and salt according to taste.

Method:

Boil and squeeze flowers and add into curd with ingredients listed above or add after shallow firing flowers in hot oil with onion and other spices listed above. Now rayata is ready to serve.

Jam of rumeunii flowers:

Ingredients:

Rumeunii flowers,1 kg; sugar, 500 g; fennel powder, 1tea spoon; cardamom powder,1 tea spoon, honey or lemon juice 4-5 table spoon.

Method:

Boil flowers in water till they are soft and let them cool down. Mesh them in a mixer grinder and transfer into a saucepan, Add to it sugar, fennel powder, cardamom powder and lemon juice. Keep stirring this mixture in slow flame till sugar completely melt and absorb. Stop heating when preparation become viscous. Now let it cool down and put it into a ceramic jar. Jam can be used from six month to one year.

Nutrient analysis:

Per 100 g, the seed is reported to contain 17.0–25.5 g protein, 3.0–3.3 g fat, 35.0–46.5 g NFE, 17.2–39.0 g fiber, 6.1–7.5 g ash, 1290–1500 mg Ca, 0.26–0.32 mg P 14.

Seek professional advice before treating this plant medicinally.

Medicinal Uses:

The flowers are antispasmodic, aromatic, diuretic, emollient and laxative 4. They are cooked and eaten for the treatment of eye ailments 4. The flower is said to contain the antitumor compound benzoaldehyde 5. The inner bark and the root bark are emetic, purgative and tonic 1,4,5,6. The root bark has been chewed to induce vomiting, or held in the mouth to allay toothache 6,7, though it is rarely if ever prescribed as a therapeutic agent in Britain 1. The bark of young branches is used in the treatment of fevers and migraine 8. The fruit is narcotic. This probably refers to the seedpod. The leaves are cholagogue and emetic 5. The leaf juice inhibits viruses 4 .

Other Uses:

Local people use this plant as a fuel fodder and in construction of furniture, agricultural tool,temple and household items.

A temple made by local people from Rumeunii wood

A drying oil is obtained from the seed 5. An essential oil is obtained from the flowers. Highly valued, it is used in perfumery 5. The bark is used to make paper and is a substitute for silk and wool 8. The wood is close-grained, exceedingly hard, heavy, very strong (due to a high lignin content), resists shock and is very durable in contact with the soil. The wood is used in shipbuilding and for making fence posts, tree nails, flooring, furniture, woodenware etc1, 5, 8,11,12. The wood is also used for making charcoal 11. This species has been widely planted for shelterbelts and windbreaks, and is also used to produce woody biomass for energy production 12. It suckers freely, especially if coppiced, and can be used for stabilizing banks etc 9.10. It is used in restoration and rehabilitation projects because its extensive root system holds and stabilizes the soil surface, it sprouts vigorously and prolifically, it increases soil fertility through nitrogen fixation, and it forms a leaf litter that protects the soil. Its main use has been in the rehabilitation of former surface mine sites and for erosion control, but it is also used to rehabilitate contaminated soils, depleted soils, gravel pits, and logged areas, and to stabilize railroad embankments and highway edges 12. The plant is often found as a pioneer on old fields, burned areas, and lands strip-mined for coal 11. The leaves are rich in tannin and other substances which inhibit the growth of other plants 8.

The flowers are a rich source of nectar. Honey produced from this nectar is considered to be of high quality and fetches a price premium 13.

References:

1. Grieve. (1984)  Penguin.  Modern Herbal.

2. Pfander, F. (1984). A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plant. A. Wolse Sciences Book Ed., London, 54.

3. Cooper, M. R., & Johnson, A. W. (1984). Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. HM Stationery Office.

 4.  Duke, J. A., & Ayensu, E. S. (1985). Medicinal plants of China (Vol. 2). Reference Publications.

5. Chiej. R. (1984). Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.

 6.  Moerman, D. E. (1998). Native american ethnobotany. Timber press.

 7.  Foster, S., & Duke, J. A. (1990). A field guide to medicinal plants: eastern and central North America. The Peterson field guide series (USA).

8. Triska. Dr. (1975)     Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants.

 9. Huxley, A. J., & Griffiths, M. (1992). Dictionary of gardening. Stockton Press.

10. Lauriault, J. (1989). Identification guide to the trees of Canada. Natl Museum of Natural Sciences.

11. http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home.

12. http://www.feis-crs.org/feis/.

13.  Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2020-03-12. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Robinia+pseudoacacia>

14.https://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Robinia_pseudoacacia.html.

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