Madhuca longfolia, commonly known as mahwa or mahua, is an Indian tropical tree found largely in the central and north Indian plains and forests. It is a fast growing tree that grows to approximately 20 meters in height, possesses evergreen or semi-evergreen foliage, and belongs to the family Sapotaceae. It is adapted to arid environoments, being a prominent tree in tropical mixed deciduous forests in India in the states of Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat and Orissa.
It is cultivated in warm regions for its oleaginous seeds, its flowers and its wood, producing between 20 and 200 kg of seeds annually per tree, depending on maturity. This oil (solid at ambient temperature) is used for the care of the skin, to manufacture soap or detergents, and as a vegetable butter. It can also be used as a fuel oil. The seed cakes obtained after extraction of oil constitute very good fertilizers. The flowers are used to produce an alcoholic drink in tropical India. Several parts of the tree are used for their medicinal properties. It is considered holy by many tribal communitites because of its usefulness. The bark is used for medicinal purposes.
The tree is considered a boon by the Tribals who are forest dwellers and they are keen conservators of this tree. However, the conservation of the tree has been marginalized as it is stated that the non-tribals do not favour propagation of this tree..
Mahuwa Flower is edible and is a food item of tribals. Flowers are used to make syrup for medicinal purposes. The flowers of Mahuwa tree are fomented to produce an alcoholic drink called Mahuwa, a country liquor. Tribals of Bastar in Chattisgarh and Orissa, Santhals of Santhal Paraganas (Jharkhand) and Tribals of North Maharashtra, consider the tree and the Mahuwa drink as part of their cultural heritage. Tribal people, men and women, consume this drink and is an obligatory item during celebrations and evening activities. .The main ingredients used for making Mahuwa are the Chhowa Gud (Mollasses in granular form)and dried Mahuwa flowers.
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