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Two orange-brown Gmelina arborea flowers with yellow centers and stamens
gmelina arborea
Gmelina arborea

A fast-growing tree originating in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia, it has successfully acclimated to tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. The wood harvested from it is employed in light construction, crafts, decorative veneers, pulp production, and even as fuel and charcoal. It's also utilized in more niche applications like matchbox and splint production, core stock for plywood, and pit prop production in coal mines. The species finds use in agroforestry systems as well, often planted alongside short-rotation crops and as a shade tree for coffee and cacao plants. The medical attributes of this species are well-documented in traditional medicine, particularly in Ayurveda. Various parts of the tree, including the roots, leaves, and fruits, are prized for their broad spectrum of medicinal benefits. They have been employed as remedies for conditions such as diabetes, inflammation, microbial infections, pain, and even neurological disorders like epilepsy. Besides these, it's known to have hepato-protective, antidiuretic, antidiarrheal, antipyretic, and antioxidative properties among others. The bitter-sweet fruit is edible. Photographed in western Panama.

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