If given the choice of naming the road leading to D Mart at Khewra Circle (Thane) I would call it Kadamba Sarani/Road/Street. Here on both sides of this potholed road stand scores of Kadamba tree. Every time, at least during the months of July and August, when these tall trees are heavy with fruits, the size of gold balls, I mumble silent prayers to the men who planted them. A fast grower Kadamba can be grown on roadsides, avenues etc. Kadamaba flowers during May-June and it’s a pleasant experience moving under its boughs.
Thanks to large amounts of leaf and non-leaf litter which on decomposition improves the properties of the soil under its canopy Kadamba is considered a good example for reforestation. The fruit of N. cadambaoccur in small, fleshy capsules packed closely together to form a fleshy yellow-orange infructescence containing approximately 8000 seeds. On maturing, the fruit splits apart, releasing the seeds, which are then dispersed by wind or rain. The caterpillars of the Commander (Limenitis procris), a brush-footed butterfly, utilize this species as a foodplant. Now you know which plant to plant if you want to invite the Commander to your garden, park or farm. Moreover, the fragrant orange flowers attract pollinators.
Kadamba flowers are an important raw material in the production of ‘attar’, which is Indian perfume with sandalwood (Santalum spp.) base in which one of the essences is absorbed through hydro-distillation. An extract of the leaves serves as a mouth gargle. Having a kadamba in your neighbourhood can be good for one other reason—its leaf is helpful in relieving inflammation and pain, in cases where the skin has not split. Take a fresh leaf, smear coconut oil on it, place it on the affected part wrapping it with a piece of cloth overnight. Next morning remove it. Those who have tried it, say it has worked like a miracle.
Folklore says that Kadamba tree was a favourite of Lord Krishna. For he conducted his love-play with Radha in the hospitable and sweet-scented shade of the Kadamba tree. Remember the episode from the life of Lord Krishna in which he steals the garments of the bathing gopis and hides them in a tree. The tree is none other than Kadamba. Considered the Tree of Buddhism it was thought to reunite separated lovers. Next time you and your beloved have a tiff and have spoken to for days, check out a kadamaba tree in your neighbourhood. Spend some time underneath; it might help rekindle your relationship.
It’s still believed that cows tethered under Kadamba yield more milk. There is no validation of this but the belief continues. In fact, the fresh leaves are considered a delicacy among milk yielding cattle.