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kumbhi - Careya arborea Roxb.

kumbhi :

kumbhi : Careya arborea Roxb. Careya arborea is a species of tree in the Lecythidaceae family, native to the Indian SubcontinentAfghanistan, and Indochina. It is known as Kumbhi in Hindi, and Slow Match Tree in English


--In colonial times in India, the fibrous bark of this tree was found to be an ideal substitute for Beech bark as matches for matchlocks

Taxonomical Classification

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Streptophyta
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Family: Lecythidaceae
Genus: Careya
Species: Careya arborea


Sanskrit: कूम्भी Kumbhi, कुम्भः Kumbha, कटभि Katabhi
English: Kumbi, Slow match tree, Wild guava, Patana oak
Hindi: पीलू Pilu, कूम्भी Kumbhi
Telugu: కుమ్భూ Kumbhi
Bengali: কাংবের Kamber
Marathi: कुंभी Kumbhi
Konkani: -kumbhiyo
Oriya: -kumbhi
Gujarathi: ગંગેઠિ Gangethi, કુંભી Kumbhi, કુંભ Kumbh
Tamil: கம்பி Kampi, கும்பி Kumpi, பேழைமரம் Pelaimaram, ஆவிமா Avima
Malayalam: Aalam, Pezhu, Peru, പേഴ് Peezh, Alasoo
Kannada: ಕವಳ Kaval
Munda: -Asanda-daru, Kumbhi
Assamese: Pani-bhela, Kumari, Kumbhi, Kumrega, Kum Kumari, Panibhela
Burma: -Bam-bwe
Sinhalese: -Kahata
Tulu: -Daddaal


  1. Careya sphaerica Roxb.
  2. Careya herbacea Roxb.
  3. Careya arborea Roxb.


Synonyms in Ayurveda: kumbhi

-kumudika - flowers are beautiful like night lily
Kumbhi - it possesses plenty of juice
Sri parnika - it leaves appear very beautiful

Rasa: Katu
Guna: Laghu Ruksha
Veerya: Ushna
Vipaka: Katu
Karma: Kaphahara

Careya arborea Roxb. is commonly known as Kumbhi in Hindi and Wild Guava in English. It is widely distributed in Sri Lanka, India, Peninsula and Malay up to an altitude of 1500 meters  This plant is very important in the field of medicines and is being used for treatment of various ailments. It is also used for other purposes e.g. methanolic extract of the leaf is a good indicator in acid-base titrations , crushed bark of the root is mixed with water to stupefy fishes , stem bark is used for clothing and to produce yellow colored dye and leaves are used as green manure 


Prefers a well-drained, sandy or even rocky soil. Requires a sunny position
In India the annual diameter increment can be up to 0.5 cm, but growth of coppice is faster, 0.6 - 0.9 cm in diameter for 8-year-old coppice shoots.
The tree is highly fire resistant and coppices well.


Seed - there is over 90% germination in 11 - 46 days


The plant is a popolar herbal remedy in India, where it is often harvested from the wild for local use and trade.


Flowers  - Flowers of C. arborea have triterpenoids, steroids and tannins 
Fruits - Phenolic compounds viz. gallic acid (1), 3,4-dihydroxybenzoic acid (2), quercetin 3-O-glucopyranoside (3), kaempferol 3-Oglucopyranoside (4) and qurcetin 3-O-(6-O-glucopyranosyl)-gluco pyranoside (5) were isolated from methanol, n-hexane, ethyl acetate and dichloromethane extracts of C. arborea fruit  . 

Seeds  - Seeds of C. arborea are reported to possess starch [37], α- spinasterone (6), α- spinasterol (7) [38] and triterpenoids viz. 16 desoxy barringtogenol C (8), barringtogenol C (9) and barringtogenol D (10)

 Leaves  - Acid hydrolysis of ethanolic extract of leaf produced a triterpenoid lactone careyagenolide (11), maslinic acid (12) and 2α-hydroxy ursolic acid (13) [43] and from its methanol extract a triterpenoid saponin arborenin (14) and desacylescin III (15) were isolated  .

 Other reported constituents are taraxerol (16) , ellagic acid (17), nhexacosanol (18), taraxerol acetate (19), quercitin (20) and βsitosterol (21) , careaborin (22)  and tannins 

Stem bark  - Stem bark is reported to contain terpenes, sterols , tannins and saponins


important formulation

1. sariva kalpa
2. marma gutika

Parts used for medicinal purpose

Bark, Flower, Fruit, Leaves, Seed, ,


decoction - 30-40ml
powder- 3-5gm


 In colonial times in India, the fibrous bark of this tree was found to be an ideal substitute for Beech bark as matches for matchlocks.


Species of the Planchonia genus are morphologically similar to many Barringtonia species, resulting in the original classification of P. careya as Barringtonia careya F. Muell. (Barringtonaceae) (1866). This classification was later changed to Careya arborea Roxb. var. australis Benth. (alternatively referred to as C. australis F. Muell.) in 1882, due to the morphological similarities with the genus, Careya (Barrett, 2006).  

Commercial value:

-Various formulations containing C. arborea as one of the active components are available in market e.g. Hamdard Ghutti® (Hamdard Laboratories (Waqf) Pakistan), a pediatric preparation used to evacuate bowl and treat constipation of newborn and infants

The tree yields a medium-weight to heavy hard wood with a density of 770 kg/m cubic to over 1000 kg/m cubic at 15% moisture content. Heartwood pale red to dark red-brown in older trees, sapwood wide, pale reddish-white; grain straight; texture medium and even. Shrinkage of the wood is very high, so it should be seasoned slowly as it easily develops surface checks, end splits, and is very liable to warp and twist It is moderately hard and somewhat difficult to saw, but presents no difficulties when worked with hand and machine tools. It yields a smooth finish and a good polish. The wood is durable, especially under water.

The wood is used, mainly in India and Myanmar, for general construction (house posts, planking), furniture and cabinet work, carts, mouldings, turnery, piling and agricultural implements.  


C. arborea is a tree having a spreading crown and height of about 20 meters. Arrangement of leaves is alternate. Flowers are large, sessile, ill smelling and yellowish white colored. Inflorescence of flowers is racemose. Flowering season is March to April. Fruit is large, round shaped, fleshy and green in color, seeds being embedded in this fleshy pulp. Bark is of dark grey color and usually exfoliates in thin strips


Stem Bark 
Stem bark of C. arborea is of dark grey color, thick and rough having cracks which are usually shallow. It is odorless and has astringent taste. In transactional view, the bark shows 8 to 16 layers of rectangular shaped, brownish black colored, thick walled cork cells. Inside the cork, there are 2 to 3 layers of phellogen which produce phelloderm cells centripetally. Parenchymatous cells of cortex are multilayered, polygonal to rectangular in shape. Secondary phloem is also present consisting of phloem parenchyma, fibers, vessels and 1 to 2 seriate medullary rays. Phloem parenchyma and cortex cells contain crystals of calcium oxalate. In powder of the bark, thick walled lignified fibers, about 38 to 66 micrometer in length and crystals of calcium oxalate of 10 to 15 micrometer are characteristic  . 

Color of leaf is green, shape is obovate and apex is acuminate with crenate margin. Length and width of fresh leaf is 15-22 cm and 7-12 cm respectively with 0.1-1.8 cm long petiole. In transverse section of leaf through midrib, thick cuticle over the epidermis is prominent on both adaxial and abaxial sides. Inside the epidermis, there is collenchyma tissue, a single layer of palisade cells and few layers of spongy mesophyll cells. In the midrib, one large central and two relatively lateral bundles of vascular tissue embedding in the spongy mesophyll cells are found. These vascular bundles are surrounded by lignified sclerenchyma fibers. Xylem tissue consists of fibers, tracheids, parenchyma and vessels forming the shape of a cup and phloem surrounds it. Stomata are of anisocytic type. Leaf constants per mm2 area are: Stomata number, upper surface (28.00), lower surface (188.00); Stomatal index, upper surface (8.26), lower surface (31.18); Vein-islet number (6.00-8.00); Veinlet termination number (7.00-9.00); Palisade ratio (6.00-8.00 per cell) [3] . 

Fruit is berry type, large and green colored. It has persistent style and calyx and weighs about 100 g. Outermost layer of fruit is epidermis with a waxy covering. Inside epidermis there is collenchymatous hypodermis, inside which loosely packed parenchymatous cells are present having scattered vascular bundles. Some of these parenchyma cells have stone cells which provide mechanical support. Placentaion of ovules is axial with 4 locules

Geographical distribution:

Shady areas and forests of the subHimalayas (from Jammu to West Bengal), Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.


-Scattered but locally common in primary or secondary, evergreen or deciduous, slightly seasonal forest, sometimes in more open country and along forest edges. It is absent from perhumid rain forest.         

Plant conservation:

-not evaluated

General Use:

Snakebite antidote (fruit and bark), in treating body pain, fever, cold, cough, and leucoderma. The plant parts are used to treat snakebite, ulcers, healing wound, cough, cold, abscesses and dysentery.

Therapeutic Uses:

Whole plant  - Astringent, demulcent, antipyretic, antipruritic, in cough, cold and eruptive fevers Smallpox (Pal et al., 1999) Snake bite (Bhandary, 2000-2001; Chandra et al., 1989;   Jain, 1970) 

Fruits  Cold and cough (Kapoor and Kapoor, 1980) Digestion promoter (Ahmed, 1982; Iyengar, 1986; Shah, 1982) 

Flowers Aphrodisiac Acrid, cures ‘Kapha’, demulcent in cough and cold Tonic (Borthakur et al., 1996; Upadhye et al., 1994) Vaginal ruptures Fever (Rai et al., 1992) Colic and loose motions (Prakash and Mehrotra, 1991) Cold and Cough (Bedi, 1978; Shah, 1983) Calyx Filaria (Mohan and Singh, 1996) Seeds Colic and loose motions (Kumar and Pullaiah, 1999) 

Leaves Fever and swellings (Maheshwari, 1986) Ulcers and skin diseases (Sharma, 1985) Twig Leech repellent (John, 1984) Gum exudates Jaundice after delivery (Samvatsar, 2000) Tongue ulcers (Girach and Aminuddin, 1995) 

Stem bark     Constipation (Singh, 1993) Diarrhoea (Rama Rao, 1999) Skin diseases (Joshi, 1980) Dysentry  In asthma, dental diseases and snake bite (Kothari and Londhe, 1999) 

Stem sap Menorrhegic (Pandey, 1991) 

Root Astringent (Parinitha, 2004) Bark  Washing and cleaning abscesses, boils, ulcers and diarrhoea Ear pain (Bhandary, 1995) Skin diseases (Malhotra and Moorthy, 1973) Antipyretic, antipruritic and eruptive fever (Singh and Aswal, 1992) Smallpox and stomach disorders (Sadhale, 1991) Wound healing and body pain (Mohapatra, 1991) Astringent and demulcent Cough and Cold Alexiteric, anthelminthic and in urinary discharges Rheumatic pain and diarrhoea (Jain, 1965) Eye complaints Abortifacient (Mohanty, 1999) Asthma, dental diseases and snake bite Tumors, dyspepsia, bronchitis and colic Coarse  fibre  for  cordage  ropes,  cloth  sacking  and  saddle  making (Mukherjee and Ray, 1980; Row and Sastry, 1964)

Systemic Use:

Abdominal pain: Grind the bark of Careya arborea with the bark of Madei tree into paste. Soak the paste in water. After two to three days filter with cloth and take the filtrate orally.
Body pain: Grind 20 g root of Careya arborea into paste. Boil the paste with cows milk. Take 50 ml of the mixture as a dose twice a day for one day only.
Cold / Fever: Boil the bark of Careya arborea for 15 minutes. Take 25 ml of this decoction with honey as a single dose twice a day for three to four days.
Cuts/ Wounds:Grind the sun-dried bark of Careya arborea into powder. Sprinkle the powder over the wounds.
Liquid purging: Grind the dried bark of Careya arborea with water to make paste. Prepare pills of 5 g each from the paste. Take one pill as a dose three times a day with water until cured.
Myalgia: Grind the bark of Careya arborea and the root of Bauhinia variegata into paste. Take 10 g of this paste as a dose twice a day for 7 days.
Pain due to injury: Boil a long bark of Careya arborea in water for 15 minutes. Use the long boiled bark as bandage on the injured part.
Poultry lice: Keep the flowers of Careya arborea inside the poultry house to get rid of lice in poultry.
Rabies: Grind the root of a small tree of Careya arborea. Make a pudding by mixing the paste with broken rice. Administer the pudding to the patient and advise patient to sit under the sun for a while. This will cause vomiting and cure the patient.


-The juice of the bark, and the calices of the flowers, are astringent and mucilaginous]. They are often used internally in India for treating coughs and colds, and are applied externally as an embrocation
An astringent gum exudes from the fruit and stem
The pulped leaves are used as a poultice


The therapeutical importance of Careyaarborea is mentioned in Materia Medica, Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani system of medicines. The root paste is used in body ache. Moreover, it is taken in the morning in empty stomach against joint pain for five days. Root-bark decoction (with long pepper) is used in fever, Stem-bark powder (paste with honey) is given to children in cold and cough; Stem-bark (paste with margosa) heals leucoderma. The bark of the tree and the sepals of the flowers are used as astringent and mucilaginous being administered internally in coughs and colds and applied externally as an embrocation. The stem bark of C. arborea is traditionally used in the treatment of tumours, bronchitis, skin disease, epileptic fits, astringent antidote to snake venom, abscesses, boil and ulcer . Infusion of the flower is used after childbirth to heal rupture caused by childbirth. 

Clinical trials:

Pharmacognostic studies of the leaves and stem of Careya arborea Roxb  Prakash Gupta, Nisha Sharma, Ch V Rao


A better understanding of traditional uses of Careya arborea Roxb.: Phytochemical and pharmacological review Nupur Ambardar , Vidhu Aeri

Use in other system of medicine:

-In colonial times in India, the fibrous bark of this tree was found to be an ideal substitute for Beech bark as matches for matchlocks
Lodhas use fresh stem bark decoction for washing septic wounds of cattle, and keep a dry fruit in a room as snake repellant. Oraons use powdered stem, root and leaf for poisoning fish.


In 1819 a genus of flowering plants in the family Lecythidaceae was described as Careya large fruits with woody skins. The family comprises of tropical trees consisting of about 20 genera and 450 species . The genus careya includes three different species which includes Careyasphaerica Roxb, Careyaherbacea Roxb and Careyaarborea Roxb. Careyaarborea is a deciduous tree about 20 m high and is known as ‘Padmaka’ in Ayurveda . The accepted botanical name is kumbi  and “Wild guava” in English   

KEY WORDS: kumbhi Careya arborea Roxb.

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