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Sal Tree

Binomial name: Shorea robusta

Marathi: Sal

Hindi: Sal

Local Language: Sakhua


# This tree is native to the Indian subcontinent, ranging south of the Himalaya, from Myanmar in the east to NepalIndia and Bangladesh.

#  In India, it extends from AssamBengalOdisha and Jharkhand west to the Shivalik Hills in Haryana, east of the Yamuna. The range also extends through the Eastern Ghats and to the eastern Vindhya and Satpura ranges of central India.


# In Hindu tradition, the sal tree is said to be favored by Vishnu. Its name shalashaal or sal, comes from Sanskrit (शाल, śāla, literally "house"), a name that suggests it for housing timber; other names in the Sanskrit language are ashvakarnachiraparna and sarja, among many others.

# There is a standard decorative element of Hindu Indian sculpture which originated in a yakshi grasping the branch of a flowering tree while setting her foot against its roots.

This decorative sculptural element was integrated into Indian temple architecture as salabhanjika or "sal tree maiden", although it is not clear either whether it is a sal tree or an asoka tree.

# The tree is also mentioned in the Ramayana—specifically, where Lord Rama (on request of deposed monkey-king Sugreeva for proof he can kill Sugreeva's older half-brother Vali) is asked to pierce seven sals in a row with a single arrow (which is later used to kill Vali, and still later to behead Ravana's brother Kumbhakarna)

#  Buddhist tradition holds that Queen Māyā of Sakya, while en route to her grandfather's kingdom, gave birth to Gautama Buddha while grasping the branch of a sal tree or an Asoka in a garden in Lumbini in south Nepal

Also according to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha was lying between a pair of sal trees when he died.

In Buddhism, the brief flowering of the sal tree is used as a symbol of impermanence and the rapid passing of glory, particularly as an analog of sic transit gloria mundi. In Japanese Buddhism, this is best known through the opening line of The Tale of the Heike – a tale of the rise and fall of a once-powerful clan – whose latter half reads "the color of the sāla flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline."


Sal is one of the most important sources of hardwood timber in India, with hard, coarse-grained wood that is light in colour when freshly cut, but becomes dark brown with exposure.

The wood is resinous and durable, and is sought-after for construction, although not well suited to painting and polishing. The wood is especially suitable for constructing frames for doors and windows.

The dry leaves of Sal are a major source for the production of leaf plates called as patravali and leaf bowls in northern and eastern India, also used as leaf plates to serve food in Karnataka Canara (Dakshina Kannada, Gokarna) regions of India.
# The leaves are also used fresh to serve readymade 
paan (betelnut preparations) and small snacks such as boiled black gramsgol gappa, etc.

# The used leaves/plates are readily eaten by goats and cattle. The tree has therefore protected northern India from a flood of Styrofoam and plastic plates that would have caused tremendous pollution.

Sal tree resin is known as Sal dammar or Indian dammar, ṛla in Sanskrit. It is used as an astringent in Ayurvedic medicine, burned as incense in Hindu ceremonies, and used to caulk boats and ships.

# Sal seeds and fruit are a source of lamp oil and vegetable fat. The seed oil is extracted from the seeds and used as cooking oil after refining.


----Parag Deshpande 



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