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Gum ghatti

Category: Medicines - plant based



Introduction and description


Anogeissus latifolia is a species of small to medium-sized tree native to the India, Nepal, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.

Its common names are axlewood (English), bakli, dhau, dhawa, dhawra, or dhaora (Hindi), takhian-nu (Thai), and raam (Vietnamese).

It is regarded as one of the most useful trees in India. Its leaves contain large amounts of gallotannins, and are used in India for tanning. The tree is the source of Indian gum, also known as ghatti gum, which is used for calico printing among other uses. The leaves are also fed on by the Antheraea paphia moth which produces the tassar silk (Tussah), a form of wild silk of commercial importance.

And it is also a medicinal plant.



Anogeissus latifolia is a small to medium-sized tree up to 20(-36) m tall.  

Bole straight and cylindrical or sometimes more poorly shaped,  branchless for 8(-10) m, up to 80(-100) cm in diameter,  occasionally with  small buttresses; bark surface smooth or with scales, pale to dark gray; branches drooping.

Leaves opposite or sub-opposite, variably distichous, simple, entire, exstipulate, with grayish-yellow or whitish hairs below.

Flowers sessile, in dense, globose heads on an axillary or terminal peduncle, 5-merous, small, sepals connate in a stalk-like tube, expanded at apex into a 5- lobed cup; petals absent; stamens 10, in 2 rows; disk intrastaminal, lobed; ovary inferior, 1-locular with 2 pendulous ovules, style simple.


Fruit a 2-winged pseudoachene, packed into a dense head, 1-seeded; calyx tube persistent and forming a beak.

The specific epithet latifolia is in reference to its wide leaves.

In India, A. latifolia is leafless in February-May, flowers in June-September depending on locality, and mature fruits are present in December-March.

Leaf flushing begins in the dry season, reaching a peak time before the onset of rain.

Medicinal uses

Ghatty gum is tapped from A. latifolia and is regarded as a good substitute for gum Arabic.  It is used a binding agent in pharmaceuticals, however, there appears to be some evidence that like Gum Arabic, its full medicinal potential has not been sufficiently explored.  Dr Duke’s analyses provide more details.  For example


Ethnobotanically, the bark of Anogeissus latifolia (Roxb. ex DC.) Wall. ex Guill. & Perr.(Combretaceae) has been reported to be used in the treatment of various disorders including stomach and skin diseases. We studied the antiulcer potential and antimicrobial activity of the 50% aqueous alcoholic extract in order to validate ethnobotanical claims regarding the plant use in the above-mentioned disorders….. The results of the present study showed for the first time that the ALE possessed gastroprotective activity as evidenced by its significant inhibition in the formation of ulcers induced by physical and chemical agents with a maximum of 84.16% curation (200 mg/kg body weight) in CRS-induced ulcers. …… These findings could justify, at least partially, the inclusion of this plant in the management of gastric disorders in traditional medicine

 In traditional medicine Anogeissus latifolia is used for skin diseases such as sores, boils and itching and it is used to both help the wound heal and prevent infection, implying it has some anti-bacterial qualities:

Wound healing potential of ethanolic extract of Anogeissus latifolia bark (ALE) for treatment of dermal wounds in rats was studied on excision and incision wound models.  …..The results obtained indicate that A. latifolia accelerates the wound healing process by decreasing the surface area of the wound and increasing the tensile strength. …. Complete epithelization was observed within 15 days with ALE…….  Antibacterial activity of ALE was studied against Gram--positive (Staphylococcus aureus) and Gram-negative bacteria (Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae) …….. Moderate activity was observed against all organisms.



References and further reading

  • Journal of Ethnopharmacology  Volume 106, Issue 1, 15 June 2006, Pages 57–61  Antiulcer and antimicrobial activity of Anogeissus latifolia  - R. Govindarajana, M. Vijayakumara, M. Singha, Ch.V. Raoa, A. Shirwaikarb, A.K.S. Rawata, P. Pushpangadan
  • Acta Pharm. 54 (2004) 331–338 Healing potential of Anogeissus latifolia for dermal wounds in rats RAGHAVAN GOVINDARAJAN1, MADHAVAN VIJAYAKUMAR1, CHANDANA VENKATESHWARA RAO1, ANNIE SHIRWAIKAR2, SHANTA MEHROTRA1*, PALPU PUSHPANGADAN1,
  • 1Pharmacognosy and Ethnopharmacology Division, National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow-226 001, India
  • 2Pharmacognosy Department College of Pharmaceutical Sciences Manipal-576 119, Karnataka, India

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