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Desert Date
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Desert Date
ative Photo: Jui Pethe
Common name: Desert Date, Egyptian myrobalan, heglig, Jericho balsam, simple thorned torch tree, simple-thorned torchwood, soap berry tree • Hindi: हिंगोट hingot, हिंगन hingan, हिंगन का पेड़ hingan-ka-per, इंगुदी ingudi, हिंगोर hingor • Kannada: ingala, ingalarade, ingalare • Malayalam: namunta, nanchunta • Marathi: hingalbet, hingam • Sanskrit: तापसद्रुमः tapasadruma, angaravrksa, हिंगुपत्र hinguputra • Tamil: nanchundan, nancuntan • Telugu: gara, gara-chettu • Urdu: hingot
Botanical name: Balanites roxburghii    Family: Zygophyllaceae (Caltrop family)
Synonyms: Balanites indica, Balanites rigida, Balanites jacquemontii

Desert Date is a small thorn tree or shrub, with a generally narrow form. The branches are thorny. The dark green compound leaves are made up of two leathery leaflets which are variable in size and shape. Leaf-stalk is channeled, 0.5-2 cm with a short rachis. Leaflets are entire, generally up to 6 cm long, 4 cm broad, although can be smaller (1-3 x 0.3-1.5 cm). Greenish stalkless flowers are borne in few-flowered fascicles. Flower buds are ovoid and velvety. Individual flowers are 8-14 mm in diameter and generally greenish-yellow. Flower-stalks are densely greyish, velvety and rarely reaching 1 cm in length. Fruit is ellipsoid, up to 4 cm long, green. Ripe fruit is brown or pale brown with a brittle coat enclosing a brown or brown-green sticky pulp and a hard stone seed. The name Balanites come from the Greek for acorn, referring to the fruit. Desert Date is found throughout the drier parts from Punjab to West Bengal, Rajasthan and Peninsular India.
Medicinal uses: The fruits have been used in the treatment of liver and spleen diseases. The roots are used for abdominal pains and as a purgative. Gum from the wood is mixed with maize meal to treat chest complaints.

Identification credit: J.M. Garg, Jui Pethe Photographed in Warora, Maharashtra & JNU Campus, Delhi.

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