Mesua ferrea (L.)

Botanical features of Nagasampige

Geographical district: It is found in moist and semi evergreen forests of Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam

Distribution in India: It is found in the Himalayas from Nepal eastwards, in north-eastern India, Deccan Peninsular and the Andaman Islands


Kingdom Plantae Genus Mesua
Order Malpighiales Species ferrea (L.)
Family Guttiferae

Commonly known as Nagasampige, Nagesar, Ceylon ironwood, Indian rose, chestnut, iron wood tree,


Botanical description

Habit and Habitat:Mesua1

It is medium sized to large evergreen tree seen growing up to an altitude of 2300 m and it grows in fairly rich, well drained soil. Stiff clay and low lying oils are unsuitable. It is susceptible to frost and drought

Root System:

Endomycorrhizal associations in Mesua roots have been reported.


The tree grows to a height of 36 m and trunk diameter ranging from 90 cm to 95 cm. Tree trunk is short with grayish or reddish brown bark. Bark surface is smooth to adherent scaly with a bright orange layer below.


Leaves are red in colour in young stages. Leaves are opposite, simple and entire. They are usually elliptical, generally covered with a waxy bloom underneath. Leaf has numerous veins running parallel to the margin with prominent reticulate tertiary veins.

Floral Biology:Mesua2

Flowers are large, solitary or in clusters of 2-3. Flowers are terminal or axillary. Petals are four white or pink in colour.  Thrips sp. and T. hawaiiensis visit the flowers oftenly and breed within the young inflorescences.


Formation and development of fruits:Mesua3

The tree begins to flower during the fourth year after planting. Flowering begins during the dry season (March-July) and new leaves are produced just after flowering at the start of rainy season. Seed harvesting begins in October-November. of an interesting point. You can position the text box anywhere in the document.

Fruit and Seed:

Fruits are ovoid, woody and 2.5-5.0 cm long, 2.5 cm diameter with persistent calyx. Cotyledons are fleshy and oily. Fruit is a capsule usually globose often beaked, usually dehiscent with 2-4 valves before falling, often exuding resinous droplets. Each fruit contains 1-4 seeds.

Crop improvement

Tree improvement program in general includes germplasm collection, maintenance, evaluation of the germpalsm for eliteness, establishment of clonal orchards, hybridization program.

Cultivation aspects


Mesua ferrea can be propagated by seed, which can be collected from underneath the tree or from the branches. Seed germination ranges from 75-90% in 11-24 days after sowing. The seed loses its viability quickly in 2-3 months.

Establishment of seedlings, weeding and intercropping:

Seeds are to be collected and sown in seedbeds or polybags. Planting of seedlings in the field are preferred after the plants reach 75 cm tall. Weeding is done for equal time interval. The tree grows very slowly and not popular for plantations. It is a strong shade tree and pruning is suggested in intercropped farm systems. It is considered suitable for inter-planting in teak plantations.


Artificial propagation may be done by direct sowing or by transplanting nursery raised seedlings.Vegetative propagation by means of cuttings is not promising. Stumps do not thrive well, nor does bare-rooted planting stock.

Pest and disease

The tree is affected by brown cubical rot (Fomes dochmius Berk. & Br), white sap and heart rot (Ganoderma lucidum (Leyss.) Karst.). It is also attacked by beetles and some borers.


Bark gives ferruols A and B, lupeol-type triterpenoid also named guttiferol.. Heartwood gives xanthoneseuxanthone, meuaxanthones A and B, tetroxygenated xanthone named ferraxanthone. Stamen consists of a and b-amyrin, b-sitosterol, biflavonoids- mesuaferrones A and B, and mesuanic acid. 4-phenyl coumarin analogues- mesuol, mammeigin, mesuagin, mammeisin, mesuone is an important ingredient of seed oil.



Mesuaxanthones A and B and euxanthone are antiinflammatory, CNS depressant and antimicrobial. An Ayurvedic preparations containing M. ferrea has haemostatic and astringent properties and is particularly useful in uterine bleeding. Unripe fruit and flower is astringent


Used as firewood. Yields a moderately durable, heavy and very hard wood (often blunts saws). The heartwood is reddish-brown with a purple tinge when fresh, becoming dark red-brown upon exposure.  The wood is used for heavy construction (posts, beams, rafters, joists, columns) and heavy duty flooring and furniture. Also used for joinery, cabinet work, tool handle, agricultural implements, vehicles and boat building.


Leaf and flower is an antidote for snakebite and scorpion sting.


The flowers are used in dyeing for fixed colours. The fragrant flowers are used to stuff pillows and cushions and in cosmetic products. Flowers of M. ferrea exhibit antibacterial activity. Dried flowers are used for bleeding hemorrhoids and dysentery with mucus. Fresh flowers are useful remedy for itching, nausea, erysipelas, bleeding piles, metrorrhagea, menorrhagea, excessive thirst, and sweating


Kernel oil acts as a natural alternative disinfectant. The essential oil from the stamens is antibacterial, antifungal, anthelmintic and that from fruit is antifungal. Phenol containing fraction of seed oil is antiasthmatic and antianaphylaxis. Seed oil is antirheumatic, used for treating itch and other skin eruptions, dandruff.


Mesua oil and biodiesel

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Seed kernel meal can be incorporated up to the 10% level to replace maize in the feed of poultry without adverse effects on their performance. M. ferrea seed meal is a good source of protein and energy, and its use as a feed ingredient for cattle is proposed.