Pharmacological Properties and Traditional uses of a wild edible mutipurpose tree-Cassia fistula

Pharmacological Properties and Traditional uses of a wild edible mutipurpose tree-Cassia fistula

Kanneboina Soujanya , B. Anila Kumari , E. Jyothsna

1Department of Food and Nutrition, Post Graduate & Research Centre, PJTS Agricultural University, Rajendranagar, Hyderabad – 500 030, India

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Cassia fistula is widely used for its medicinal properties. Every part of the plant is used in the traditional medicinal system to treat various disease conditions. Whole plant is used in the treatment of ulcers, and helminthiasis, as a purgative, leaves and seeds are acrid, laxative, antiperiodic, anthelmintic, ophthalmic, liver tonic, cardiotonic and expectorant. It has antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, hypolipidemic, antiulcer and antitumor properties. The plant had both food and medicinal properties.


Ayurveda, Cassia fistula, Natural plants, seeds, Unani

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            Natural plants are the gift of the nature with good medicinal properties, which help the people to lead healthy life. Wild plants are widely distributed in the nature and used as remedy to treat various disease conditions in the traditional medicinal systems like Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homeopathy (Maqsood et al., 2020). On the advent of the modern drug, usage of traditional medicine was greatly reduced. Present, Scientific data is available to only limited number of medicinal plants. WHO recommended this area to be investigated comprehensively. Worldwide Cassia fistula has been widely used to treat a wide range of alignments (Bahorun et al., 2019).   

Cassia fistula is a deciduous, semi wild tree commonly known as the golden shower tree/Golden rain tree, belongs to the subfamily Caesalpiniaceae of leguminous family (Fabaceae). It is used as ornamental tree because of its beautiful bright yellow-coloured flowers. Cassia fistula is one of most widely distributed tree of the tropical regions of the world like China, India, Egypt, Ceylon, Mexico, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, England and East Africa.  It is widely used for its medicinal properties. It is widely distributed in the forest areas of India. It is found abundantly in Central India, Gangetic valley and South India. Along the roadside and homesteads it is planted as ornamental tree. The plant is widely used for its medicinal properties. A number of biologically important compounds are isolated and identified from almost every part of the plant. It has many pharmacological properties like antipyretic, antimicrobial, antifungal, larvicidal, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumour, antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, hypoglycemic and laxative properties (Pawar et al., 2017). The tree has strong and very durable wood, and has been used to construct “AhalaKanuwa”, a place at Adams Peak, Sri Lanka, which is made of Cassia fistula (Miraj., 2016).

Botanical description:

Cassia fistula tree grew up to the height of 25-30 feet, leaves are 1-1.5 meters long, pinnate and alternate. Leaflets are 2.5-3cm wide and 7-15cm long. Fruits of the tree are pendulous septate, cylindrical, and brown in colour with 25-45cm length and 1-3cm in diameter with 25-100 seeds. Stem bark is brown in colour. Seeds of the plant are reddish brown, lenticular and lustrous. The long pods of the tree turn to black colour after ripening. The pulk has brown colour, sweet, sticky, mucilaginous and characteristic, somewhat disagreeable odour (Maqsood et al., 2020).

Taxonomical classification

Super DivisionSpermatophyta
Sub ClassRosidae
                  (Maqsood et al., 2020; Pawar et al., 2017)

Vernacular names

BengaliBundaralati, Sonalu, Sondal, Soondali,
EnglishGolden Shower
HindiAmultus, Sonhali
TamilKonai, Irjviruttam, Shrakkonnai,
TeleguAragvadhamu, Kondrakayi, Raelachettu
PunjabiAmaltaas, Girdnalee, Kaniyaar
ThaiCanâfístula mansa, chácara, Guayaba, Cimarrona
SpanishBâton casse, casse doux, casse espagnol
Trade nameIndian laburnum
                                      (Pawar et al., 2017)

Chemical composition of fresh leaves and flowers

NutrientLeaves (100gm)NutrientFlowers (100gm)NutrientSeeds (100gm)
Crude fiber30gCarbohydrate11.75gmProtein24gm
Ash8gFree amino acids1.42gmCrude fiber6.5gm
Carbohydrates39.86gm Carbohydrates50gm
(Depar et al., 2021; Ali., 2014)

Cassia fistula

Cultivation: It is widely cultivated as ornamental plant in tropical and subtropical regions. The tree blooms in the late spring season. Flowering is profuse, with trees are almost covered with yellow flowers, several times with almost no leaves being seen. It grows best in dry climates and well drained soil conditions. It is relatively tolerant to drought as well as salt conditions.

Phytochemistry of Cassia fistula

Leaves identified the presence of secondary metabolites like isonzianid, steroids, triterpenoids, anthroquinone, rifampicin flavonoids, rhein volatile oils both in aglycone and glycoside forms such as rhein, sennosides, chrysophanic, aloe-emodin and sennosides. The leaf oil composed only seven components identified as eugenol, (E)-phytol, camphor, limonene, salicylic alcohol (linalool and 4- hydroxybenzyl alcohol (Maqsood et al., 2020).

Flower: Phenolic compounds, potassium, calcium, iron, manganese Anthroquinone, oxyanthroquinone, rhein, volatile oil, tannins, isoflavanoids, glycosoids. A bianthraquinone, glycoside, fistulin together with kaempferol and rhein, alkaloids, Aurantiamide acetate, proanthocyanadins, catechins tannins, fistulic acids, anthrones, senosides (Maqsood et al., 2020).

Root: Roots of the plant were evaluated to have rhonthocyanadin. Flavan 3-ol derivatives, betulinic acid, flavanoids, 7-methylphysicon, and Bsitosterol. Root bark contains phloba phenes and oxyanthroquinone.

Seeds: Iron, anthroquinon, gum, alkaloids, Galactomann, amino acid freesugar, glucosoidssaponins, phosphate, sodium, Resin, terpeoids, dianthroquinone, sennoside A, SennosideB, fistulic acid, ceryl, alcohol, kaempferol, bianthroquinone, tannins, fatty acids isoflavanoids, terpnoidsand phenolic compounds, flavanoids, glycosoids, vanthroquinons, steroids,  glycerides with linoleic, oleic, stearic and palmatic acid, globulin, albumin, cephalin, lecithin, phospholipids, carbohydrates, lecitins are sugar binding proteins that agglutinates cells, proteins , proanthrocyanadins, Terpenoids and steroids, with typical sterols such asstigmasterol, β-sitosterol, campesterol, fucosterol,. Oil extracted from seeds contains cyclopropenoid fatty acids, malvalic, vernolic and stetculic acids. Seeds are rich source of glycerides with linoleic, oleic, stearic and palmitic acids as major fatty acids together minor traces of caprylic and myristic acids and carbohydrates like galactomann. Seeds contain Napins (protein) that has antifungal activity.

Traditional uses of different parts of Cassia fistula

  • Flowers of the plant were used as vegetable and consumed by rural and tribal people of India. The flowers are used to treat skin diseases, GIT problems, leprosy, laxative, astringent, wound healing properties and the decoction of the flowers are used to treat stomach problems.
  • Seeds are used in the treatment of skin diseases, abdominal discomfort, Leprosy, laxative, Cooling agent, Anti-pyretic properties and Constipation.
  • Fruits used to cure fever, skin diseases and leprosy. Roots are used for cardiac disorders, briliousness, rheumatic condition, hemorrhages, wounds boils, ulcers related problems. Leaves are used as laxative.
  • Pulp of the fruits is used for disorders of liver, biliousness, gout, rheumatic condition, antipyretic, as tonic, remedy for malaria, blood – poisoning, anthrax, diahorrea, leprosy, diabetes and removal of abdominal obstructions (Lavanya et al., 2016).

Pharmacological properties:

Antimicrobial activity: Different compounds like terpenoids and phenolics, fats and waxes, alkaloids, quaternary alkaloids and N-oxides extracted from flowers showed antimicrobial effect on selected microbes like Rhizopus sp., Curvularia eryostides, Drecheslera tetrameda, Fusarium cicerg, Bipolaris sorokenia (Malpani and Rajput., 2012).

Antifungal activity: The compound 4-hydroxy benzoic acid hydrate extracted from the flower of Cassia fistula showed antifungal activity against Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Trichophyton simli, Trichophyton subrum and Epidermophyton floccosum (Pawar et al., 2017). Leaf extracts of Cassia fistula showed strong inhibitory affect against penicillium marneffei fungi (Maqsood et al., 2020).

Antibacterial activity: Different solvent extracts of flowers of the plant exhibited antibacterial activity against gram negative bacteria like Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Antiparasitic activity: Cassia fistula fruits extracted with Dichloromethane reported antiparasitic activity against promastigote form of Leishmania L. chagasi (Chauhan et al., 2019).

Anti-aging property: Butanolic extract of flowers of the plant showed increased collagen synthesis, inhibited collagenase and tyrosinase activity that causes hyperpigmentation, which induces aging in a dose dependant manner (Limtrakul et al., 2016).

Antidiabetic activity: The total alcoholic extract & its ethyl acetate, ethanolic extract stem bark, aqueous extract of flowers and seeds of Cassia fistula exhibited antidiabetic activity (Ali., 2014).

Antioxidant activity: Hydroalcoholic extract of flowers of Cassia fistula contained tannins, glycosides, phenolic compounds and flavonoids in higher amounts. It has marked amount of total phenols which could be responsible for the high antioxidant activity (Bhalodia et al., 2011). Presence of some prooxidants, such as chrysophanol and reducing sugars may be responsible for low antioxidant activity of flower and pulp fractions. The aqueous extracts of flowers decreased the peroxidation products like thiobarbituric acid reactive substances, conjugated dienes, hydroperoxides in alloxan induced diabetic rats (Bhalerao and Kelkar., 2012).

Central nervous system activities: The methanol extract of seeds of C. fistula improved the sedative actions of sodium pentobarbitone, diazepam, meprobamate, chlorpromazine in a dose-dependent manner and influenced behaviour of the mice (Bhalerao and Kelkar., 2012).

Anti-tumour activity: The methanolic extracts of the seeds exhibited antitumour effect in a dose dependant manner in tumour bearing mice (Bhalerao and Kelkar., 2012).

Hepatoprotective activity: Heptane extract of leaves at a dose of 400mg/kg body weight significant protective effect by lowering serum levels of transaminase and serine glutamicpyruvic transaminase, bilirubin and alkaline phosphatase (Kumar et al., 2017). CCl4 causes hepatotoxicity, cardiotoxicity, nephrotoxicity, and metabolic disorders. The extracts of seeds and leaves and their combination reported protection against        CCL4 toxicity (Kumar and Singh., 2020).

Antipyretic activity: The pods and buds of the tree reduced the yeast induced fever in rats at dose levels of 200 and 400mg/kg body weight and significantly decreased the temperature to normal after 4 hours (Kumar et al., 2017).

Laxative activity: Anthrons are the active form of the laxative effect which is formed by the hydrolysis of the anthraqunones of glycosides by β-glucoside of the intestinal flora. Anthraquinone glycones and anthraquinone glycoside of pods and leaves are responsible for laxative activity in traditional medicine since long time (Kushawaha and Agrawal., 2012). 

Antiviral activity: Ethanolic extracts of fruits, pods and stem bark of the tree showed antiviral activity against Foot and Mouth Diseaseirus, Ranikhet disease virus and Vaccinia virus (Chauhan et al., 2019).

Wound healing capacity: Ointment made from leaf extract was comparable to standard drug, nitrofurazone in terms of wound contraction ability, tensile strength, epithelizationperiod and regeneration of tissue at wound area in rats.  Wound closure, improved tissue regeneration at the wound site and supporting histopathological parameters pertaining to wound healing (Chauhan et al., 2019).

Antitussive activity: The methanol extract of Cassia fistula was evaluated for its effect on a cough model induced by sulphur dioxide gas in mice. The extract showed significant affect in a dose dependent manner (Kumar et al., 2017).

Antifertility activity: Cassia fistula seeds extracted with petroleum ether possesses pregnancy terminating effect by virtue of anti-implantation activity (Kumar et al., 2017).

Weight lowering effect: Methanolic extracts of Cassia fistula was evaluated for hypolipidemic activity in diet-induced lipidemia in mice. It was found that the plant significantly decreased of the weight and parametrial fat weight of mice in a dose dependant manner (Hernandez and Leonido., 2011).

Antiotitis externa activity: is an ear disease, is characterized by inflammation of the external ear canal, commonly caused by Staphylococcus aureus, Proteus mirabilis, Escherchia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter sp., and Candida albicans. Different extracts of the flower and bark exhibited activity against all the above-mentioned species (Aneja et al., 2011).

Antarthritic activity: The ethanolic extract of Cassia fistula leaves studied for In-Vitro antiarthritic activity by bovine serum protein denaturation method. It was found that leaves have more potent in inhibition of egg albumin denaturation than diclofenac, standard anti-inflammatory drug (Boddupally et al., 2017).

Antiulcer activity: The ethanol leaf extract showed antiulcer activity against pylorus ligation-induced gastric ulcer in rats at a dose dependant manner (Karthikeyan and Gobianand., 2010).

Effect on chikungunya: The crude extract of Cassia fistula Linn. Served as a potential larvicidal, ovicidal and repellent agent against chikungunya vector mosquito.


Cassia fistula is a deciduous, semi wild tree commonly known as the golden shower tree/Golden rain tree, belongs to the subfamily Caesalpiniaceae of leguminous family (Fabaceae). A number of biologically important compounds are isolated and identified from almost every part of the plant. It has many pharmacological properties like antipyretic, antimicrobial, antifungal, larvicidal, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumour, antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, hypoglycemic and laxative properties. More research has to be done in this area to provide scientific evidence behind usage of wild plants in treatment of various diseases. As this helps to provide protection against side effects caused by the modern medicine.


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