Shalmali, Silk Cotton Tree (Salmalia malabarica)

The Shalmali tree grows in humid, tropical climates and can grow up to 20 meters tall. In rainy tropical weather, older trees can reach up to 60 meters in height. Because of its enormous size and exquisite blossoms, this tree is referred to as the "king of the forest." This plant has conical, sharp thorns that are firm and sharp, and it has a straight, sturdy trunk that is colored light grey. It also has deciduous leaves. Semal trees have lovely red flowers with a cup-like shape. This plant has solitary or clustered flowers on the tips of its branches. The flowers are roughly 7 inches wide by 6-7 inches long.

This plant produces flowers with five satiny, reddish-purple, and occasionally white petals. This plant's blooming period lasts from January to March. This tree produces balls-shaped fruits in March and April that are loaded with material that resembles cotton. Fruits are pale green when they are immature and turn dark brown when they ripen. The villagers harvest the shalmali tree's fruits and use kapok, or a material that resembles cotton.

General description

Salmalia Malabarica is also known by the names Indian kapok tree, red silk cotton tree, shalmali, semal, simal, and shemul. Among the five sacred trees, it holds a common place in Indian tradition. This plant's many medicinal qualities, including those of an aphrodisiac, astringent, stimulant, tonic, anti-diarrheal, anti-dysentery, anti-microbial, and anti-pyretic, are employed in the Ayurvedic medical system. Every portion of this plant has been endowed by nature with therapeutic qualities. This plant is used to treat rheumatism, smallpox, fever, and leprosy using different components. This plant's roots are used to treat impotence because they have aphrodisiac, tonic, and stimulant properties. Fruits have diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, and anti-calcus properties. This plant is used to treat nocturnal emission in men and other diseases connected to semen.

Shalimali is said by Vagbhata to be utilized via nasal methods to treat stiffness and body aches.This plant's soft wood is extremely valuable, and the tree's sturdy trunk is ideal for building. This tree is well-known for being used in the production of matchboxes, sticks, plywood, scabbards, and molds. Pillows, sofas, and quilts are filled with a cotton-like substance that is derived from fruits.

Shalmali's entire plant is rich in glucosides and betasistosterol. Both hydroxycadalene and lupeol are found in the root bark. This plant produces beautiful flowers with the highest concentration of hentricontane and hentriacontanol. Arachidic acid, linoleic acid, myristic acid, oleic acid, and palmitic acid are the chemical components found in seed oil. This plant has a gum that is high in gallic acid, tannic acid, l-arbinos, D-galactose, D-galacturonic, and D-galactopyranose, and its seeds include carotenes, n-hexacosanol, ethylgallate, and tocopherols.


Shalmali is primarily from Burma, India. This plant can be found in India growing up to 1500 meters above sea level in hotter regions. In the Indian peninsula, it is also widely grown in roadsides, gardens, and deciduous forests next to rivers. Africa, Australia, and tropical southern Asia are other places it can be found. It is widely available in Malaysia and Hong Kong as well.


  • Kingdom - Plantae
  • Order - Malvales
  • Family - Bombacaceae


  • Latin name - Salmalia Malabarica
  • Common name - Silk cotton tree, Kapok tree
  • Sanskrit name - Mocha, Raktapushpa, Sthirayu, Kantakadya, Picchila, 
  • Hindi name - Shalmali, Semal
  • Bengali name - Semul
  • Assamese name - Simolu
  • Gujarati name - Shimalo
  • Telugu name - Buruga
  • Tamil name - Sanmali, Llavam, Sittan, 
  • Kannada name - Buruga
  • Marathi name - Safetasarava
  • Urdu name - Sumbal
  • Malayalam name - Unnamurika
  • Manipuri name - Tera
  • Sinhala name - Katulmbul
  • Vietnamese name - Hoagao
  • Greek name - Vomvax malvarikos
  • Portuguese name - Painiera-vermehla-da

Ayurvedic properties


Hindi / Sanskrit


Rasa (Taste)



Guna (Physical Property)

Laghu, Snigdha

Light, Unctuous

Virya (Potency)



Vipaka (Post-Digestive Taste)



Effects on Doshas

It balances pitta and vata doshas.

Charak Samhita

Sushrut Samhita

  • Shonitsthapana - A group of plants used to manage heavy bleeding.
  • Pureesh viranjaniya - Herbs that give excrement its color.
  • Kashay skanda - herbs with astringent flavors.
  • Vedanasthapan - Herb group possessing analgesic qualities.
  • Priyangvadi gana.

Practical uses

  • Salmalia roots have antiseptic properties and are used to treat wounds, menorrhagia, diarrhea, and dysentery.
  • This plant's gum is used to lessen burning sensations and is also useful in treating influenza, hemoptysis, enteritis, pulmonary tuberculosis, and dysentery.
  • This tree's bark is useful for wound healing and for halting bleeding.
  • Astringent flowers are beneficial for a variety of skin conditions and are used to treat hemorrhoids and piles. Seed paste is used to lighten skin tone.
  • Acne and pimples can be treated externally with thorns of the stem bark paste.
  • Gonorrhea and chronic cystitis are treated with seeds.
  • The mature fruits of the plant are used to cure bladder and kidney ulcers. It is also used to treat conditions linked to calculi and chronic inflammation.
  • Male reproductive health benefits greatly from this plant. It is applied to enhance semen quality and quantity. It is quite advantageous for those who experience nocturnal emissions.
  • In addition to being diuretic and laxative, flowers are excellent for skin conditions. Additionally, flowers are utilized to treat bleeding, conjunctivitis, and splenomegaly.
  • It is applied to calm vatadosha and pitta.

Part used

  • Seeds
  • Leaves
  • Fruits
  • Roots
  • Flowers
  • Gum (mocharas)
  • Thorns


  • Gum -1-3gm
  • Fruit powder -1-3gm
  • Root powder - 6-12gm
  • Infusion of flower - 12-20gm

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