Scientific name:Mesua ferrea L.

English names: Ironwood, Indian Rose Chestnut, Ceylon Ironwood, Ironwood of Assam, Nagas Tree, Mesua.

Local names: Nageshwar, Naksawi, Kaingo, Nuralia, Nahar, Nagchampa

Taxonomic Position (According to Cronquist)

SpeciesM. nagassarium

Botanical Description

Habit:A medium to large evergreen tree, 20-30 m high with a dense conical crown when young, bark ashy-grey, become reddish-brown, exfoliating in large, flat flakes, blaze reddish, exuding aromatic resin, young shoots brilliant red at first, then pink and gradually dark green.


Leaves: Leaves simple, decussate, opposite, 3.5-15.0 x 1.5-3.0 cm, very variable, linear-lanceolate or elliptic-oblong, acute acuminate, coppery-reddish when young, rigidi, coriaceous, entire, dark green and shining above, glaucous, covered with waxy powder beneath, lateral veins many, fine, parallel, almost indistinct, petioles 0.5-1.5 cm long.

Flower: Flowers white,4-8 cm across, solitary, rarely paired, fragrant, nearly sessile, in the axils of the upper leaves on short peduncle, rusty hairy, c 0.5 cm long. Sepals 4, 0.8-1.5 cm long, in 2 rows, concave, fleshy, orbicular, inner pairs larger, velvety puberulent outside, persistent. Petals 4, pure white, thin, obovate or obcordate, cuneate at the base, spreading, curled and erose at the margin, very finely brown or purplish veined, imbricate, caducous.

Androecium:Stamens numerous, forming a yellow globe at the centre of the flowers, filaments slender, 4-5 mm long, anthers linear, c 3 mm long, golden-yellow, basifixed.

Gynoecium: Ovary ovoid, 2-celled, ovules 2 in each cell, style filiform, stigmas small, peltate.

 Fruit:Fruit a berry, 3-5 x 3-4 cm, ovoid to globose, with a conical tip, dark brown, smooth, surrounded by the enlarged, persistent sepals at the base.

Nagesar fruitNagesar fruit1

Seed:Seeds 1-4, glossy brown with horny testa, cotyledon pale brown, fleshy and oily.

Economic Importance: Economically very important tree for multipurpose uses, such as wood, resin, oil, medicine and ornamental plant. Timber is heavy, very durable and used for general construction, buildings, bridges, piles, house posts, gunstock, tool handles and railway sleepers. An oleo-resin, obtained by tapping the tree is used in varnishes. Seeds contain fatty oil, which is suitable for soap-making. The dried flowers are used in perfumery, cosmetics, and medicinally used as astringent, stomachic and expectorant. The bark is slightly astringent and aromatic. The bark and the roots areconsidered as an excellent bitter tonic. Oil extracted from seeds is used as antidote to snakebite. Planted as an ornamental tree in gardens,parks, Buddhist temples and along roadsides.