Ironwood Tree
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Ironwood Tree
ative Photo: Radhika Vatsan
Common name: Delek air tree, Ironwood tree • Hindi: Anjan अंजन, Kaya • Kannada: ಅರಚರೆ Arachare, ಅರಚಟೆ Arachate, ಅಲಮರು Alamaru, ಉಡಿತಲ್ಲಿ Uditalli, ಅಲ್ಲಿ Alli, ಹುಳಿಸೊಪ್ಪು Hulisoppu • Marathi: अंजनी Anjani • Telugu: Mandi, Lakhonde • Malayalam: Kanjavu • Oriya: Neymaru
Botanical name: Memecylon umbellatum    Family: Melastomataceae (Melastome family)
Synonyms: Memecylon molestum, Memecylon ramiflorum, Memecylon tinctorium

A large shrub or small tree, up to 8-14m tall with amazing bright blue flowers that look almost unreal. Delek air produces showy clusters of tiny purple flowers, about 1cm each. The trees bloom once or twice a year, and are then indeed a beautiful sight. As the flower petals are shed, the sand and rocks below are dusted in mauve. The fruits are small (about 1cm) and are green, turning red then black as they ripen. The tree has a thin bark, so it is sometimes also called 'Nipis kulit' or 'thin-skinned' in Malay. Delek air belongs to the same family as the more familiar Singapore Rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum) This tree is not only beautiful, but also useful. It provides hard timber used for building houses and boats. A yellow dye can be extracted from the leaves and the bark is used to treat bruises.
Medicinal uses: The leaves are used in the treatment of gonorrhea, or when mixed with several other ingredients, they make good fomentations for external use.

Identification credit: Yogish Holla Photographed in Goa & Maharashtra.

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