The Golden Shower or Indian Laburnum is a deciduous, medium size tree that grows to about 10m in height. The tree flowers after shedding its leaves. While in bloom, it looks extremely beautiful – each branch is laden with a large number of yellow flowers. The ground beneath the tree is often resplendent in yellow with the flowers that cascade in large numbers. Probably, this is the reason why tree is also called Golden Shower.
Laburnum is native to India. One of its Arabic names, Kathaul Hind, also corroborates the fact that it is Indian. Laburnum is planted as an avenue tree and in gardens for its shade and beautiful, yellow flowers. There are many beliefs associated with the Laburnum. In certain parts of Karnataka, the stakes obtained from the tree are driven into the ground and worshipped. In Chhattisgarh, it is commonly believed that the tree brings good luck and fortune; so, people plant it near their houses.
The tree is also useful in many other ways. The wood obtained from the tree is used for making furniture, decorative panelling, etc. The bark from the tree is used in the tanning industry.
Laburnum has a wide range of medicinal uses. The tree finds mention in various treatises on Indian systems of medicines. Almost every part of the tree has some medicinal properties, but the fruit is considered the most important. The fruit contains a jelly like pulp, commonly called ‘ casia pulp’, and is a well known laxative. It is considered so safe that it can be administered even to pregnant women and new born babies.
Fresh Laburnum flowers are used for treating liver and spleen related problems. Seeds obtained from the fruit are emetic and improve appetite, while the root is a strong laxative, antipyretic and provides immunity from viral infections. Laburnum seeds, when ground and mixed with water, can be administered to cattle for controlling diarrhoea. According to Ayurveda, the root is useful for treating burning sensations, skin diseases, leprosy, syphilis and tuberculosis.