Sterculia urens Roxb.

Sterculia urens Roxb. (STERCULIACEAE)
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Common names
Kannada: Bhutali, Kempudale.
Malayalam: Thondi.
Tamil: Kavalam, Senthanaku, Vellaippulali.
Telugu:  Tabsu.

Description:  Trees, up to 15 m tall; young parts more or less pubescent; bark white, smooth, outer papery peeling off, inner fibrous. Leaves alternate, crowded at the ends of the branchlets, digitately 3-5 lobes, up to 20 x 20 cm, cordate at base, caudate-acuminate at apex, grey beneath; petioles up to 9.5 cm long. Flowers small, male and female mixed in much branched, glandular-pubescent terminal panicles, appearing before the leaves at the ends of branchlets, yellow. Calyx companulate, 5-lobed, glandular hairy lobes inside at base. Petals absent. Male flowers: anthers 10-15 at the top of staminal column. Female flowers: ovaries on gynophores with sterile anthers at base; styles curved; stigmas 5-lobed. Follicles 5, oblong or ovoid-oblong, up to 4 x 1.5 cm, red when young, densely pubescent, often mixed with stinging hairs. Seeds 3-6 in each follicle, oblong, ca 7 x 5 mm, black, glossy.

Flowering : October – March.
Fruiting : February – April.

Distribution: India: Almost throughout except Himalayas.  Sri Lanka and Malesia.

Uses: Seeds are roasted and eaten. Gum called “Katila” is substitute for tragacanth, used in throat affections; Leaf and tender branches are used in pleuropneumonia in cattle.