Arjuna Tree

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From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Arjuna Tree and its benefits

Mains level:  Not much


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Arjuna Tree

  • The Arjuna is a large, buttressed tree that usually grows along river banks.
  • The arjuna tree (Terminalia arjuna) is best known for its medicinal properties and its importance to the charismatic grizzled giant squirrel, but it plays a special role in the river-forests of Karnataka’s Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary too.
  • A higher number of trees specific to riverine habitats thrive under the canopies of old arjuna trees.
  • The soil under these trees’ enormous canopies is also more moist and higher in organic carbon.
  • This makes a case to recognize it as a keystone species — one that plays a crucial role in the landscape and conserve large, old trees.

Why Keystone specie?

  • Scientists studied the plant species growing under the canopy of arjuna trees, as well as in areas without the trees.
  • This revealed a higher species diversity (44 species; some like the mahua tree Madhuca latifolia grew only under the canopy of arjuna trees) under these trees.
  • Similar riverine areas without arjuna trees housed only 26 species.
  • Areas devoid of the trees also had more species that were not native to riverine stretches.

Medicinal Use

  • The arjuna was introduced into Ayurveda as a treatment for heart disease by Vagbhata (c. 7th century CE).
  • It is used in the treatment of wounds, hemorrhages and ulcers, applied topically as a powder.

Gives out rich soil

  • The researchers also sampled soil properties under the trees as well as in areas without them.
  • This revealed that soil in areas under the canopy of the tree had higher organic carbon and moisture contents, probably due to the presence of the large canopy.
  • Put together, these factors prove that the arjuna is a crucial tree in the landscape.
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