Mahaua or the Madhuca longifolia is indigenous to India. It is a good sized tree and it grows up to 20 meters in height. It is a semi-evergreen tree and adaptable to arid environment. In India it is mainly found in Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Bengal and Tamil Nadu etc. Taxonomically, it belongs to family Sapotaceae.
This tree is very important for its seeds and flowers. A single mature tree can produce up to 200 kg of seeds. Seeds are used for extracting oil which is used for skin care, production of soaps; etc.It is used as fuel oil also. Seed cakes of Mahua that are obtained while extracting oil is considered as very good fertilizer by farmers. It is called as Mahua Ki Khalli.
Most parts of the tree including oil, flowers, bark etc. are used for medicinal purposes. In tropical India its flowers are used to produce alcoholic drink. Because of its uses it is considered Holy tree by tribals and non-tribals in India.
Mahua flowers are very beautiful and juicy. These are edible. These form a food item for tribal people. These flowers are also used to make syrup which has medicinal purpose. In forests Mahua is a source of income for tribal people. Flowers of Mahua are sun dried and preserved throughout the year for eating. Hindus eat Mahua flowers during some religious fasts.
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