CHENNAI : A tree species — Mitragyna parvifolia (Roxb) Korth — belonging to Rubiaceae, is considered to be the true Kadamb tree, which is associated with our ancient religious and cultural traditions. This tree is native to India and also frequently appears in Lord Krishna stories.
The oldest name for Madurai — Kadamba Vanam — was due the dominance of these trees. Even today, these Kadamb trees (M. parvifolia) are found to grow commonly in the deciduous forests in and around the Madurai district. According to the Hindu mythology, the present day Chennai was also, covered completely by these trees. As per the mythology, demon Vrinda was killed by Lord Indra. Vrinda was a brahmin, hence, Lord Indra was cursed, but was given a choice to be freed from the curse. Indra was told to find the most sacred spot on Earth in order to shake off his curse.
It is said that he wandered all over the world, but his curse was lifted only when he passed a place full of Kadamb trees. Lord Shiva, in the form of a Linga, was reclining under a huge canopy there. Later, a temple was built around this forest temple, which is in present day Chennai.
Kadamb trees also have an important place in our traditional medicines. The roots are used to treat bronchial issues, fever, muscular pain, poisonous bites, gynaecological disorders, and is also used as an aphrodisiac. The bark is used for rheumatic pain. The leaves are used to alleviate pain and swelling and to treat ulcers. Leaf juice is used in the treatment of jaundice. The fruit juice is considered to be a good lactating agent.
Kadamb is a deciduous tree, which grows up to 10m to 15m tall with pale yellow flowers. The trees grow in almost all tropical parts of India, especially along the streams. Neer Kadambu, Manjal Kadambu are the other names in Tamil language.