Karanj tree
  • Article tells you about the Karanj Tree- Medicinal and economic uses and medicinal remedies.

The world today has immense pressure to fulfill the growing demand for fuel and we cannot keep depending on non-renewable sources like fossil fuels. But nature always has a solution and Karanj truly is the marvel man has discovered.


Karanj (Millettia pinnata) is also called the Indian Beech Tree, Pongam and the Oil Tree. Having medicinal and biodiesel properties Karanj can change lives of rural areas with its various other usages too.


Karanj is a fast growing tree from subtropics and humid environment. It can grow happily in saline, alkaline conditions and is drought resistant making it tolerant to adverse environments. One can find these evergreen trees near rivers, mangrove forests and sea shores mainly where the soil has moisture. It is native to eastern and tropical parts of Asia also found in Australia and Pacific islands.


We can enjoy the pink-while blossoms throughout the year which usually begins after 3-4 years and seeds will appear soon after the flowerings which are not opened naturally. The roots have a dense network system that controls soil erosion. Karanj, the nitrogen fixation tree grows naturally in arid regions having deep roots reaching out to acquire water.            


Medicinal and economic uses


Karanj has a pungent adour having antiseptic, astringent, anti-diabetic and antibacterial properties and is used in many traditional medicines. The seed is the most remarkable part of the tree having 25-40% liquidd content holding high potential for biofuel. Being an important fuel crop the oil is non-edible but used as diesel in villages on a larger scale, for instance, tanning industries, soap making, lighting lamps and to run the water pumps. Besides, the oil is also used as stationery generators for electricity in remote areas of Bangladesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.


The residue of oil extracted pressed cake is used as fodder for animals. Uses of Karanj tree.


Seed oil: The crude form is used in lotions, shampoos and pesticides to name a few. Oil is rubbed on affected areas for skin diseases, arthritis and rheumatism. It’s also used for dyspepsia, fever, piles, uterine problems and liver disorders. 


The seed powder is used for cough and bronchitis whereas the seed cakes (rich in nitrogen and protein) after extraction of oil are used as fertilizer and for bio gas production.

Karanj Seeds.

Leaves: The leaves aid in leprosy, diarrhea, cough and cold. As the leaves contain crude protein and fiber it is used as cattle and poultry feed.

Branches: The twigs are used as a toothbrush from ancient times and is said to cure bleeding gums, and toothache.

Fruits: The fruits are used to cure diabetes, psoriasis and some skin infections like eczema.

Flowers: Are used to treat haemorrhoids and are anti-diabetic. Being rich in nutrients they are used as manure for plants too.

Bark: The fresh stem bark has astringent properties used to treat enlarged spleen and bleeding haemorrhoids. The barks secrete gum which is used to treat wounds from poisoning and scorpion bites. The bark is also meant to give relief from mental disorders and cold-cough. Ropes are made from twigs required for domestic use. The ashes residue collected after burning the wood is used in dying industries. Whereas, the timber is of low quality which does not hold much commercial value but used on smaller scale for instance, pulp making and agricultural tools.


Karanj tree & seeds.


Root: The antiseptic root juice helps to cure soars and ulcers and the roots are used as toothbrush to maintain oral hygiene. The root near the bark is alkaloid and is used for abortions.

Caution: The oil is toxic and non-edible, consumption can cause vomiting.



1. Regular application of karanj seed oil will help relieve swelling and pain for osteoarthritis.

2. For ulcers, the bark and leaves are taken together and boiled. This is used to wash the wounds helping to heal by disinfection.

3. Turmeric root and karanj seeds are made into paste and applied on the affected areas of eczema. This relives itching and aids in healing the wound.

4. For inflammation and numbness of nerves, onion and ginger are cooked together in Karanj oil on low flame. This solution can be the applied on affected parts.

5. 5 or 6 dry leaves are boiled with 200 ml water and once water is reduced to 50-60 ml it should be filtered and consumed. This will help cure diarrhea and cholera.

6. For skin diseases, 20 gm bark is added in boiling water and taken 30-40 ml two times in a day

7. Ancient literatures and Ayurveda says the oil is used for lighting lamps which is good for our eyes.

8. Dried leaves are used as insect repellant and it’s also believed to improve the soil fertility.


Future substitute and usage

Today we require diesel in all the sectors be it transport, industries and agriculture; it’s an essential resource for man today and considering the pace of usage it is important to search an alternative source. 


Karanj biodiesel is the best substitute compared to others because it is economical, renewable, non-polluting and non-toxic. Besides Karanj, Jatropha, Mahua, Soya, Hemp, etc. are also plants having bio fuel potential and many countries including India are producing biodiesel to meet the growing demand. On the other side having biodiesel production will also reduce the import of petroleum to an extent.


Government of India has contributed huge funds and initiated projects for fuel generation by cultivation of Karanj trees where many farmers have benefited and are able to produce income.


Cultivation of Karanj trees can actually boost rural development and improve the lives of villages in terms of social and economic growth. It can increase employment opportunities, energy supply to the villages, development of small scale industries, etc. A country like Bangladesh has substantial amount of growth rate of Karanj and can considerably benefit from its cultivation.


Nursery Practice

Karanj tree is a shade bearer and it can flourish in the shades of other trees. But as said earlier it is adaptable to any climatic condition and can grow in full sunlight as well. It will grow well in moist soil near mangroves.


If you plant a sapling instead of sowing seed it needs to be monitored carefully. From December to April pods are collected and separated from seeds before storage. Usually seeds stay viable for 1 year atleast. If you soak the seeds in water for 24 hours it will fasten the germination which is approx. 10 days. Tree can be easily propagated by sowing seeds and this is economic and widely practiced.











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