Pongamia pinnata flowers
Indian Beech Tree Pongamia pinnata (other vernacular names: Honge Tree, Pongam Tree, Panigrahi) is a deciduous tree, about 15–25 meters tall, belonging to the family Fabaceae. It has a big top with many small flowers in white, pink or violet. Its origin is India, but is widely grown in South-East Asia.
Pongamia pinnata is a hardy tropical tree, resistant against heat and sunlight. Thanks to the big root system, it is also tolerant against drought. Naturally, it grows on sandy or rocky soils, including limestone, but in cultivation, it can be successfully grown in nearly all kinds of soil as well as salty soils.
It is often grown in dry areas and is often used for landscaping purposes as windbreaker or for shade. The bark is used to make twines or ropes, and the black gum has been used in the past to treat wounds caused by poisonous fish.
Its root nodules promote nitrogen fixation, a symbiotic process by which gaseous nitrogen (N2) from the air is converted into NH4+ (a form of nitrogen available to the plant). Thus, it can be used for fertilization of soil that is poor in nutrients. Although the whole plant is toxic, the juice from the plant, as well as the oil, is antiseptic. The seed oil is used as lamp oil, in soap making, as a lubricant, and the producing of bio-diesel.
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