����������� Ethnobotanical Leaflets 10: 109-112. 2006.
Notes on Traditional Uses of Khair (Acacia
catechu Willd.) by Inhabitants of
K.N. Singh* and Brij Lal
Palampur-176 061(H.P.), India
Issued 6 April 2006
The article deals
with the importance of Khair (also known as Catechu) in the life of rural and
tribal communities inhabiting Shivalik range in
Key words: Traditional Use, Catechu, Shivalik range,
����������� Acacia catechu Willd. (Mimosaceae), locally known as Khair, is a medium sized deciduous tree with crooked and forked trunk. It is found growing in both natural and plantation forms in most of the parts of country up to an elevation of 1300m above mean sea level.
In Himachal Pradesh, catechu is widely distributed in Mandi, Hamirpur, Kangra, Solan, Sirmaur, Una, Chamba, Shimla and Bilaspur districts below 1300 m elevation (Chowdhery and Wadhwa, 1984 and Chauhan, 1999). Generally, A. catechu� forms pure patches of Khair forests but it is also found in association with Acacia modesta, Pinus roxburghii, Mallotus phillipensis, Dalbergia sissoo, Zizyphus and other species (Champion and Seth, 1968).
is a multipurpose tree species.� The
heartwood of the tree is mainly used for extracting Katha and Cutch
(decoction obtained after filtration) which are sold in the market. Katha is commonly used in ayurvedic
preparations. Besides this, it serves as one of the major components in masticatory i.e. chewing of betel leaf (pan) in
����������� A. catechu is a valuable bioresources and has been exploited commercially in tannin and Katha industry for decades (Annon., 1985). Besides its commercial importance, it is equally significant for the people particularly rural communities living in the vicinity of catechu forests as it is a subsidiary source of income to them. To a certain extent, these people are dependent on this plant to fulfill their day to day need of fuel, fodder, building material and others. This is the reason that catechu has become an integral part of socio-economic and cultural life of the people inhabiting the Shivalik range.
Though, information on traditional uses of catechu has been reported earlier by some workers like Kirtikar and Basu (1975), Jain (1991), Chatterjee and Pakrashi (1992) and Singh (2000), but, information on indigenous uses of catechu tree from Shivalik region has not yet been reported. That is why the present study was undertaken.
The present work is confined to Sirmaur and Solan districts of the state Himachal Pradesh in western Himalayan region.� The area comes under Shivalik range, located at 31o11/ - 35o57/ north latitude and 76o52/ - 77o20/ east longitude between the elevation of 500m�1200m amsl.�
In order to document Khair associated traditional knowledge, various field surveys were conducted in Khair dominating forests in different localities like Nallagarh, Subathu, and Solan areas of Solan and Dhaulakauan, Poanta Sahib, Markanda and Nahan� areas of Sirmaur districts. While interacting with rural and tribal people (Gujjars) during field studies, information was gathered through interviews following Jain (1989). Observations recorded on different traditional use are enumerated categorically and the lesser known uses are marked with an asterisk (*) mark.�
Building and Furniture Material
House Hold Articles
Besides traditional utility, A. catechu is widely utilized commercially for extracting Katha from the heart wood which costs around US $ 4-6 per kilogram in Indian markets.� Cutch is used as adhesive in plywood industry and it is also used in preparing polishes and paints.�
From the present study, it is envisaged that A. catechu has a great socio-economic importance as it is widely used for different purposes by the natives of Shivalik range.� Besides, traditional and commercial importance, it has tremendous ecological significance.� Because of its leguminous nature and soil binding abilities, it could be a suitable species for wasteland development.
thankful to the Director,
1985. The wealth of
Champion, H.G. and Seth, S.K. 1968. A
revised survey of the forest types of
Chatterjee, A. and
Chowdhery, H. J. and Wadhwa, B. M. 1984. Flora of Himachal
Pradesh: Analysis. Vol. I-
Jain,� S.K. 1989. Methods and approaches in
Jain, S.K. 1991. Dictionary
of Indian folk medicine and ethnobotany. Deep
K.R. and Basu, B.D. 1975. Indian
medicinal plants, vol. II. Periodical Experts,
Singh, K. N. 2000. Variation studies
on katha content in relation to different forms of khair (Acacia catechu Willd.)
trees. M.Sc. dissertation (unpublished) Dr. Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry,