Marking Nut
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Marking Nut
ative Photo: Pravin Kawale
Common name: Marking Nut, dhobi nut tree, Indian marking nut tree, Malacca bean, marany nut, marsh nut, oriental cashew nut, varnish tree • Hindi: भिलावां or भिलावन bhilawan, बिल्लार billar • Marathi: भल्लातक bhallataka, भिल्लावा bhillava, बिब्बा bibba • Tamil: சேங்கொட்டை cen-kottai, சோம்பலம் compalam, காலகம் kalakam, காவகா kavaka, கிட்டாக்கனிக்கொட்டை kitta-k-kani-k-kottai • Malayalam: അലക്കുചേര് alakuceer, ചേന്‍ക്കുരു ceenkkuru, തേങ്കൊട്ട theenkotta • Telugu: భల్లాతము bhallatamu, జీడిమామిడిచెట్టు jidimamidichettu • Kannada: ಗೇರ geru, ಗೇರಣ್ಣಿನ ಮರ gerannina mara • Bengali: ভল্লাত bhallata, ভল্লাতক bhallataka • Oriya: bhollataki, bonebhalia • Konkani: अंबेरी amberi, बिब्बा bibba • Urdu: baladur, بهلاون bhilavan, بلار billar • Assamese: ভলা bhala • Gujarati: ભિલામો bhilamo, ભિલામું bhilamu • Sanskrit: अह्वला ahvala, अर्शस्तः arshastah, अरुध्कः arudhkh, भल्लातकः bhallatakah, वह्निः vahnih, विषास्या vishasya • Nepali: भलायो bhalaayo • Mizo: Vawmbalhnahhlai
Botanical name: Semecarpus anacardium    Family: Anacardiaceae (Cashew family)
Synonyms: Anacardium orientale

Marking Nut is a moderate-sized deciduous tree with large stiff leaves. Leaves are 7-24 inches long, 2-12 inches wide, obovate-oblong, rounded a t the tip. Leaf base is rounded, heart-shaped or narrowed into the stalk, leathery in texture. Flowers is small, borne in panicles shorter than the leaves. Fruit is a drupe 1 inch long, ovoid or oblong, smooth and shining, black when ripe, seated on a fleshy cup. The stem yields, by tapping, an acrid, viscid juice from which a varnish is prepared. The nut yields a powerful and bitter substance used everywhere in India as a substitute for marking ink for clothes by washermen, hence it is frequently called Dhobi Nut. It gives a black colour to cotton fabrics, but before application it must be mixed with limewater as a fixator. The fruits are also used as a dye. They are also largely employed in Indian medicine. The fleshy cups on which the nuts rest and the kernels of the nuts are eaten.
Medicinal uses: The fruit is useful in leucoderma, scaly skin, allergic, dermatitis, poisonous bites, leprosy, cough, asthma, and dyspepsia. It is extremely beneficial in the diseases like piles, colitis, diarrhea, dyspepsia, ascites, tumours and worms. The topical application of its oil on swollen joints and traumatic wounds effectively controls the pain.

Identification credit: Pravin Kawale Photographed in Maharashtra & Jharkhand.

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