Indian Medicinal Plants

by Kanhoba Ranchoddas Kirtikar | 1918

A comprehensive work on Indian Botany including plant synonyms in various languages, habitat description and uses in traditional medicine, such as Ayurveda....

34. Anona squamosa, Linn.

The medicinal plant Anona squamosa is a member of the Annonaceae (custard apple) family. This page includes its habitat, botanical descption, medicinal uses (eg., Ayurveda), chemical constituents and history of use in modern and ancient India.

Index in Flora of British India (Hooker): 1. 78.
Roxb. 453.

Vernacular:—Ata, katal (Ass.); Maudar gom (Santal); Sirpha (Mai).; Sita-palam or Sita-pazham (Tam.); Sitapandn (Tel.). Sharifah, at or ata, Sitaphal, (H. Deck. Guj. Mar.); Ata, lema (B.).

Habitat:—Introduced from the West Indies, and naturalized throughout India.

Botanical description:—A small tree wholly glabrous.

Bark: thin, grey.

Wood: soft, close-grained, greyish-white.

Leaves: 2-3 by ¾-1½ in., membranous, oblong or oblong-lanceolate, obtuse or acuminate, glaucous and pubescent when young; base acute, pellucid-dotted, with a peculiar smell.

Flowers: solitary or in pair, 1 in. long, pubescent on pedicels as long as the flowers.

Exterior Petals: 3, narrow-oblong, lanceolate, triquetrous, thick and fleshy, 3; interior minute or wanting.

Sepals: small.

Stamens: indefinite, crowded round a hemispherical torus.

Connective: overlapping the anthers.

Carpels: many, subconnate, style oblong.

Ovule: 1, erect.

Ripe carpels: confluent into a many-celled ovoid or globose many-seeded fruit.

Fruit: fleshy, areolate, 2-4 in. diam, juicy with the pleasant and agreeable odour of the English Heliotrope.

Seeds: oblong, brownish-black.

This is the genuine Custard Apple of India.

A native of the West Indies, naturalized in India, especially the Western Peninsula, and the Dekkan, Bijapur; in the Madras Presidency in the Krishna district. Wild in the old Forts of the Dekkan, cultivated as far as Gurdaspur in the Punjab.

Parts used:—The fruit (both ripe and unripe); leaves, seeds, roots.

Medicinal uses:—The ripe fruit is medicinally considered a maturant, and when bruised and mixed with salt, is applied to malignant tumours to hasten suppuration. The seeds contain an acrid principle fatal to insects, and the dried unripe fruit, powdered and mixed with gram flour, is used to destroy vermin. An infusion of the leaves is considered efficacious in prolapsus ani of children, The root is considered a drastic purgative; natives administer it in acute dysentery. It is also employed internally in depression of spirits and spinal diseases. (T. N. Mukerji.) The seeds are a powerful irritant of the conjunctiva. Lt. Col. Kirtikar, while in charge of the Thana Central Prison, came across a case in which a Life-Convict used the seed powder in destroying the cornea of both eyes to produce blindness for the purpose of avoiding being sent to the Andamans to undergo his sentence there.

The bruised leaves with salt make a cataplasm to induce suppuration (Atkinson).

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