Synonyms: Bauhinia alba, Bauhinia candida, Phanera variegata.
Common names: Orchid tree, camel’s foot, mountain ebony.
Local names: Karyale (करयाले), kachnar (कचनार).
Karyale trees can be seen growing all over India upto an elevation of 1700 metres above sea level. Wild growing trees of this plant exist most commonly in semi-deciduous forests, in border area of agricultural fields and village common lands of Western Himalayas.
It is one of most magnificent flowering trees bearing highly showy flowers and flowering season continuing for four to five weeks. Therefore, karyale trees are also planted along roadsides and parks as flowering ornament.
Karyale is a multipurpose tree. The flowers as well as buds are edible. Its bark is used in Ayurveda as medicine. It is also a valuable fodder plant. Its leaves are fed to cattle. Shoots are lopped during the autumn months and fed to cattle as green fodder. Due to this karyale is one of dominating trees in the agroforestry projects going on in mid-hill region.
New trees of karyale are also raised by Public Works and Horticulture Departments for planting along the roads and other public lands.
A perennial medium sized deciduous tree, upto 15 m tall; bark grey with longitudinal cracks, pale pink inside, twigs slender, zigzag; when young, light green, slightly hairy, and angled, becoming brownish grey.
Leaves rather broader than deep, simple, rigidly sub-coriaceous, deeply cordate, 11-15 nerved, divided to about ¼ the way down.
Flowers, conspicuous, white with upper petal purplish, 8-12 cm wide, in axillary and terminal, few flowered in corymbo
Fruit a pod,15-20 cm long, flat, hard, glabrous, dehiscent.
Karyale flowers and flowers buds can be best harvested from late spring to mid- summer season of the year. Although plant shows luxuriant growth in wild habitats naturally or due to planting of Karyale in forests during tree plantation program conducted every year in rainy season. Karyale is also abundant in private land holding but still we need to = harvest these reproductive edible parts of the plant sustainably by habitat rotation or keeping some flowers on parent tree.
Flower buds as well as flowers of karyale are edible. These are prepared as a vegetable and also as a snack called kachru (कचरू) in local dialect. The flowers are also used for making rayataa (रायता). A very tasty pickle is also made from flower buds.
Karyale bud’s vegetable:
Buds, 1 kg; mustard oil 3-4 table spoons; coriander powder, 1 table spoon; fenugreek seed powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seeds, 1 tea spoon; turmeric powder, 1 table spoon; red chillies, 2-3; chopped onion, 1; chopped garlic, 4-6 cloves; ginger paste, ½ table spoon; tomato puree, 1 cup or 2 cups curd.
Boil the flower buds for 5-10 minutes. Squeeze with hand to drain out excess water. Heat oil in a pan. Add coriander, cumin seeds, chillies, turmeric, onion, ginger, garlic and tomato puree or curd etc in sequence.
Add boiled buds and sauté for 5-10 minutes The vegetable will be ready to serve or buds curry can be prepared by adding two cups of curd and boiling for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Karyale buds’ Pickle
Buds, 1 kg; mustard oil 1/2 kg; coriander powder, 2-3 table spoon; fenugreek seed powder, 4 table spoon; cumin seeds, 1 tea spoon; turmeric powder, 1 table spoon; red chilies powder,3-4 table spoon; rai powder,6-7 table spoon; salt according to taste.
Boil Karyale buds till they are soft, then dry in full sunlight for 4-6 hours. Now heat 5-8 table spoon mustard oil in a heating pan and fry dried buds in slow flame for 5 minutes and let them cool down. Now add to this spices listed above and mix well.Place these fried buds in a glass container and add rest of mustard oil and little more salt to it. Store this glass container in dry place or keep in sunlight for 2-3 days. After 15 to 20 days pickle is ready to serve.
Fresh flower petals are used for many culinary preparations like rayata, pakoras, kachru and chutney.
Karyale flowers Kachru:
Kachru is prepared by making a paste of flower petal with besan or corn flour and mixing it with spices.
For preparing 1/2 kg flower Kachru ingredients one will need 1/2 kg besan (black gram flour) or corn flour,1 cup fresh coriander leaves (chopped), 3-5 green chillies, ½ table spoon turmeric powder, 2-3 medium sized chopped onions and salt according to taste.
Make a paste of flowers, basen and spices listed above. Mix well. 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.
Preparations of karyale flowers are very much liked due to their unique taste. These are also believed to be good for health due to the medicinal properties of karyale plant.
Rayata of Karyale plant flowers:
1/2 kg Karyale fresh flower, 1 Kg curd, 1 cup fresh coriander leaves (chopped), 3-5 green chillies, a pinch of black pepper powder, 1 table spoon rai powder, 2-3 medium sized chopped onions and salt according to taste.
Boil and squeeze Karyale flowers. Add these with ingredients listed above into curd or add after shallow frying in hot oil with onion and other spices listed above. Garnish recipe with coriander, Mentha piperta, Oxalis corniculata and Rumex hastata leaves and serve.
Fresh flower ,1/2 kg; besan (black gram flour) or corn flour,1/2 kg ; 1 cup fresh coriander leaves (chopped), 3-5 green chilies, ½ table spoon turmeric powder, 2-3 medium sized chopped onions, 2-3 medium sized finely chopped potato and salt according to taste.
Make a paste of flowers, chopped potatoes, basen and spices listed above. Mix well and add some tender chopped leaves of mulberry (Morus alba). Make small ball of this paste and in hot mustard oil give these balls a deep fry.Repeat this process till whole paste is over. Pakoras are now ready to serve. Serve these hot with chutney or tomato-ketchup.
Pakora Curry :
Karayale pakoras; 250 g mustard oil 3-4 table spoons; coriander powder, 1 table spoon; fenugreek seed powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seeds, 1 tea spoon; turmeric powder, 1 table spoon; red chilies, 2-3; chopped onion, 1; chopped garlic, 4-6 cloves; ginger paste, ½ table spoon; tomato puree, 3 or 5 cups curd.
Saute curd in hot mustard oil along with spices listed above in same sequence. Add to it karayale pakoras and cook for 8-10 minutes. Now add to it garam masala and garnish with mint or coriander leaves. Karyale pakora curry is now ready to serve, You can serve it with rice or chapattis
According to CSIR’s Wealth of India, the nutrient content of 100 g karyale flower buds is like this; moisture, 78.9 g; protein, 1.8 g; fat, 0.2g; fibre, 1.3; carbohydrates, 17.8; total mineralsas ash, 1.3g; calcium, 70.1 mg; phosphorus, 74.2 mg and iron, 6.1mg. The calorific value of these buds was 54 k cal/100 g1 .
Seek advice from a professional before using this plant medicinally.
The bark is acrid, sweet; appetising, cooling, astringent to the bowels; cures biliousness, “Kapha”, leukoderma, anal troubles, tuberculous glands, cough, asthma, diseases of the blood, ulcers, vaginal discharges; anthelmintic; used in strangury, thirst, burning sensation.
The root in decoction is given in dyspepsia and flatulency: the flowers with sugar as a gentle laxative; and the bark, flowers, root triturated in rice water as a cataplasm to promote suppuration. The dried buds are used in piles and dysentery. They are considered cool and astringent, and are useful in diarrhaea and worms.
Bark is useful against skin disease and roots are used as antidote to snake poisoning. Dried flower buds are recommended for diarrhoea and vomiting 2 .
The root is prescribed in combination with other drugs for the treatment of snake- bite (Charaka, Sushruta).
As already mentioned, karyale is a multipurpose tree. Nearly every part of this tree, i.e.root, stem, leaf, bark, branches and flower has some use or the other. Tree is a good source of fodder and fuel. During winter season karyale trees are lopped for fodder. The twigs or branches left after cattle feeding are dried and used as a fuel.
Karyale source of income:
Karyale trees are a good source of income for villagers. As the flowering begins, people harvest first the flower buds and then open flowers. These are then brought to towns for sale. People gladly pay 20-25 rupees depending upon the season, for a paper bag containing 150-200 g karyale buds or flowers. Karyale preparations are considered as a seasonal delicacy and are cooked at least 8-10 times during the two-month long karyale season.
1, Anonymous, (1988), Wealth of India:Raw Materials, Vol II, CSIR, New Delhi.
2, Kirtikar K.R. and B.D. Basu, (1935), Indian Medicinal Plants, Vols. I, II III and IV, Bishan Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehradun.