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Mar 21, 2008, 3:45:43 AM3/21/08
to indiantreepix
Tamala tree is a celebrated name in ancient literature mentioned
by Kalidasa, Bhartrihari, e.g. " Tamala Tali Banarajineela" Kalidasa
'Raghubansam'. Vaishnava literature put it on a sacred pedestal.
Coming back to Kolkata I asked my friends Do anyone of you know
Tamala ? None ! So consulted dictionary which. says a tree similar
to 'Gab' ( Diospyros peregrinna gurka) common in Bengal. I told
Gargji on whose request information poured in.
Dr. Pankaj Oudhiya sent 29 photographs which completely identify
it with its leaves and flowers. It is Cinnamomum tamala. Lo, its
leaves we daily use as tejpata ! Krishna Iyer from Hyderabad sent a
note on 'Malabathrum/ Malabar leaf'. From these and other sources from
net I gathered sufficient information. The book "Cinnamon and Cassia :
the genus Cinnamomum" by P.N.Ravindran et al describes: this as a
medium sized evergreen tree, upto 7.5 m high, with zigzag branching,
trunk with 95 cm girth, bark rather rough. This grows wild in
Himalayas, Khasi and Jaintia Hills, North Cachar Hills, East Bengal.
Sharma in his book "Indigenous Drugs of India" writes - 'Tejpat is
mainly grown in the Jaintia Parganas. Many plantaions are selfsown.
and a few are planted. The total area covered is approximately 600
acres." This was a revelation Many of us thought it comes from the
south! Cinnamon( i.e. C. zeylanicum) or Darchini is native to Sri
Lanka and south India. Prof. Jana , however, differed. He referred to
a book " Chiranjib Banoushadhi" by Ayurvedacharya Shibkali
Bhattacharya. This is a wonderful book written in Bengali describing
some 500 plants and shrubs with their pictures, botanical names,
therapeutic uses of roots, barks,
leaves,flowers and fruits. There are 11 volumes. In the tenth volume
there is a chapter on Tamala. Considering all pros and cons he
Tamala is Garcinia xanthochymus and not Cinnamomum tamala. He also
referred to G. indica wellknown in the west as Kokum. From the net we
find its synonyms are G.pictoria , G.tinctoria ; English names are
Mysore gamboze and sour mangosteen ; ten sanskrit names including
Tamala. One article says that yellow mangosteen is G. tinctoria while
purple mangosteen is G. mangostana. More information may be obtained
from "Flora of India" by B.D.Sharma and others (1993) What is its
family name ? Net says Clusiaceae other says Guttiferae ?

Another problem remains unsolved. According to Vaishnava
literature Tamala is mostly found in Vrindaban. Srila Prabhupada, the
founder of ISKCON,says, they say that only four trees are left. Is it
then dying ? Any member interested to verify this ? There is one tamal
tree in Belur brought from Vrindaban. But it looks quite different !
I must admit that I am a layman in this subject. I
aware of the quotation - Proper identification of a plant may require
specialized taxonomic knowledge. Be advised that their identity may be

S. Mahapatra


Mar 22, 2008, 2:01:11 AM3/22/08
to indiantreepix
If am not mistaken, Tamala is the tej patta, called vayana in
Malyalam. The botanical name is C. tamala. Kokum or Garcinia indica is
probably not correct identification. Tamala grows in Kerala. I have
fond memories of the leaf being used to make steamed jack fruit cakes
(Kumble appam). This is a close relative of C. verum (Cinnamon)and
camphora(Campher plant)

On Mar 21, 12:45 pm, "sub.mahapa...@gmail.com"

J.M. Garg

Mar 25, 2008, 3:40:16 AM3/25/08
to Koshyk, indiantreepix
Hi, Mahapatra ji,
Will it be possible for you to get detailed photographs of your tree in Vrindavan to have further discussions on the group? 
Here is the indistinct image of this tree in Vrindavan at http://www.vaisnava.cz/fotky/vrindavan/056-v.jpg. Does it help?
For my Birds, Butterflies, Trees, Lanscape pictures etc., visit  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/J.M.Garg

Pankaj Oudhia

Mar 25, 2008, 4:21:40 AM3/25/08
to indian...@googlegroups.com

Dear Garg ji,

My observations and experiences


  1. The Traditional Healers of Chhattisgarh use Tamala patra. They purchase it from herb vendors coming from North India. It is not Cinnamomum tamala. I have seen black colored bark with them.


  1. There are many meanings of Tamala in ancient literatures. In 'Kiraturjiyama' tobacco leaf is mentioned as Tamala patra. In Raghuvansha and Geetgovind Tamala is mentioned as tree with black bark. In many places Haldi is also mentioned as Tamala. Tam means dark or darkness.  There is shlok in Sanskrit


तमाल पत्रं राजेंद्र भजमाज्ञानदायक


Donot consume Tamala Patra i.e. Tobacco, as it destroys your knowledge.


In Ayurveda literatures it is mentioned that Tamala tree is present in Yamuna and Tapti river belt. Leaves are like Shisham and fruits are like Karonda. Branches are black. Many poets have compared this blackness with color of Shri Krishna. For instance


हेमलता 'तमाल' अवलंवित, सीस मल्लिका फूली हो। 
कुंचित केस बीच अरुझाने, जनु अलिमाला भूलि हो।। (परमानंद दास)
तरनि-तनया तीर मरकत मनि, जु श्याम 'तमाल' 
ब्रज की नारि-समूह मंडल बनी कंचन माल।। (चतुर्भुजदास)


In many books Chandan Tilak is also mentioned as Tamal.


As far as Garcinia xanthochymus is concerned it is present in good number in different locations throughout India. Here is detail about it.




I have much to share specially on Tamal of different medicinal properties and uses but I am not sure about safety of information provided through this group. We are not sure whether someone is gathering this information for commercial use or research or just for interest. Tamal like plants are very important for treatment of modern diseases. Hence we must be very careful. Few months back researchers asked for Noni (Morinda citrifolia) distribution in Central India. I furnished information. Few days back natives informed that Noni companies are inquiring about spots from same reference.



Pankaj Oudhia  

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