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Narra Tree Medicinal Properties of its Herbal Tea 0708

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 6 months ago
Narra Tree Medical Properties of its Herbal Tea



by Ha-Neul Kim


Description and Rationale


Narra tree, also known as rosewood, is the national tree of the Philippines. Its origin is in Southeastern Asia, which includes the Philippines, and is distributed all over the tropics. The reddish hardwood of narra trees are the most valuable timbers, not only in the Philippines, but also all over the world. Narra trees are very common in the Philippines; however, it is now an endangered species. The reason is that during 1985, loggers and smugglers exported hundreds of thousands of narra wood all over the world.

What are the impacts the narra trees have for the Philippines? If it is so valuable for the Philippines, why are many loggers still cutting down trees like narra? What are the benefits of narra? What kinds of medicines or herbs can be produced by narra? Is there a way to reproduce the narra faster than it usually is?

According to research, narra trees have many benefits. One of them is that they can cure diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, asthma, diarrhea, and many more. The young leaves are edible, and the flowers are the source of the honey. However the narra trees are rare here in the Philippines, especially in Manila. Since it is rare will it be possible to make narra herbal tea? If ever the tree is found, how can we make herbal tea out of narra? How does the process go?

The initial purpose of this project will be to research the structures and functions of narra. This project will go through internet and some interviews of people who know about narra. These initial findings will help people understand what narra trees are capable of doing.

It is hoped that through this research, the health conditions and the economy of the Philippines will be better.



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Common Names and Synonyms


Pterocarpus indicus is also called rosewood. In the Philippines, it is also known as narra. Other names for the Pterocarpus indicus are: Burmese redwood (English); Padouk (Fijian); Malay Paduak (English); Anboyna wood (English); and Philippine mahogany (English); Narra (Tagalog).





Kingdom:    Plantae (Plant)

Phylum:      Magnoliophyta (angiosperm)

Class:         Magnoliopsida (dicot)

Order:        Fabales (flowering plant)

Family:       Fabaceae (legumes)

Genus:       Pterocarpus (winged pod)

Species:     P. indicus (narra)




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Morphology and Physical Description



Narra trees can grow up to a maximum of over 30 meters, and it can get wide as 2 meters in diameter. These deciduous trees are short-stemmed and fungi and pest resistant. They are also rather dense in canopy. For the first 3 to 4 years, the trees can grow up to 2 meters per year. Then for the following years, they only grow 1 meter per year.

The tree has compound and pinnate leaves with 5 to 11 alternately arranged leaflets per leaf. The leaves have an elliptical shape. When the leaves are very young, they are a light green but as they get older, they turn much darker.

The side-branches of narra are disarranged. They grow upward first, but later, they bend downward. The flowers tend to grow on branched, auxiliary racemes.

The pea-shaped narra flowers are about 1.5 centimeters long. The flowers start to bloom first before the leaves flush. Although the flowers bloom first, the flowers continue to bloom during the months of January or February in cooler climates and until May or June in the tropical environment of the Philippines. The colors of the flowers change from bright yellow to an orange-yellow

The pods of Narra, who are born in clusters, are about 5 to 6 centimeter across. They are thin, papery winged and disc-shaped. The central part of the pods can be smooth, bristly, or in-between. They also change color from light green to a mature fruit that are dull brown. Internally, the pods are divided into 4 or 5 seed chambers. The seed matures for about 3 to 6 months after the flowering state. . The pod of narra is surrounded by seeds, and when the pod breaks, the seeds scatter like a helicopter.




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Getting Food


Narra are producers, like other plants and trees. Narra goes through the process of photosynthesis, the conversion of light energy into chemical energy by living organisms. The raw materials are carbon dioxide and water with an end product of oxygen and carbohydrates like sugars and starches. Their energy source is the sunlight. They also get nutrients and minerals from the soil.




Narra can be reproduced by many methods. One of them is pollination. The pollens are carried by wind to another flower. Another method of pollination is insects. When insects fly to narra flower to get honey, they carry around pollen grains with them. When they go to another narra flower, they tend to leave behind the pollen from the previous flower. Then the process of making new seeds begins.

Another method of reproduction is grafting. Grafting is when transplanting a piece of tissue to another same individual and allowing it to grow into one individual plant. This method really benefits the businessmen. Another is through tissue culture. However, there is minimum need for this method, because there are already many other methods to reproduce narra.



Environmental Factors



Narra grows effectively in lowlands. They are adapted to the tropical and subtropical humid or subhumid lowlands. They favor the climate patterns of summer and rainfall. Their mean annual rainfall is 1.3 to 1.4 meters; their mean annual temperature is 22 to 32 degrees Celsius.


Narra is resistant to pests, insects, and fungi. The flowers of narra are honey source, and their young leaves are edible. They can also make herbs and medicines, and they are capable of curing diarrhea, asthma, headaches, dropsy, and many more diseases. Narra is also a nitrogen-fixing tree that nodulates readily. Since narra is a tree with a complicated root system, it helps the land when hit by floods or erosions. The more trees, the better off the land is.



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Origin and Distribution


Narra is native to Southeastern Asia, northern Australasia, and the western Pacific Ocean. Now, it is distributed to other tropic countries, including the Caribbean, the tropical Americas (Cuba, Southern Florida, Granada, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana, Honduras, Panama), Africa (Congo, Sierra Leone, Tanzania), Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan), and some Pacific islands (Guam, Hawaii, Fiji, Samoa).


Importance to People



Narra is important to people in many ways. One is that the young leaves of narra can be consumed by people. Their leaves are not the only food they produce; their flowers are a source of honey. The herbs and medicine derived from narra can cure many kinds of diseases. What is really fascinating about this is that they help to slow the process of the spreading of AIDS throughout the body.

Fewer floods can prevent the deaths of thousands of people. The same goes with erosions. The trees help keep the soil firm because of its roots. They also produce oxygen that people breathe in order to live. The trees also help reduce the pollution by processes the carbon dioxide from the air into carbon compounds.

Cutting down not only narra, but also all kinds of trees, can increase the possibility of many deaths because of erosion, floods, and pollutions. If few trees are left, there is a possibility that global warming will take place rather rapidly. Another reason is that many species will go either extinct or be endangered because of the lack of food and shelter.

Currently, the Philippines is very polluted. Because of this, the chance of developing cancer is high. Planting narra will not only help reduce the pollution, but it may also reduce cancer.



Survivability and Endangered Status


Before 1985, the Philippines had an enormous number of narra trees. However, between 1985 and 1987, the Philippines exported over 3 million kilograms of narra wood all over the world. Because of this, narra in the Philippines became endangered. In 1987, the government took an action by banning illegal logging and export of narra wood. Even though it has been banned by the government, illegal loggings and smugglings still endangers the narra tree. Nowadays, the government like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), that involves forestland developments, helps to keep the biodiversity of the Philippines and the extinction of trees like narra.

If loggers cut down narra for good reason, in return, they should replant it, so that the narra tree has a greater chance of survival. When the time comes the Philippines is bountiful of narra trees, less people will be starved and get ill or diseases. Not only this, but also the Philippines will be a country full of rich natural resources.




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Potential Solutions


As people know, narra trees are endangered species. According to the research, narra trees can help people in many different ways. Since they are herbal trees, they can cure many common sicknesses that Filipinos have. However, they are so hard to find especially inside Manila. The government agencies like DENR are doing their best to plant more trees like narra to make Philippines rich in natural resources. There are many different solutions to keep the narra trees from extinction. Here are some possible solution with advantages and disadvantages each.




One of the most common solutions from the extinction of narra trees is replanting them. Narra trees can be planted anywhere just not in steep lands like mountains.


1. Since narra is a kind of tree, it can help reduce the carbon dioxide in the Philippines. Reducing the carbon dioxide will slow down the global warming right now and the smog during the day. If there are more trees such as narra, the air will be cleaner and fresher to breathe in.


1. Since Manila has not so many good flat lands, finding narra tree is difficult. Reproducing them by cutting a branch of the tree is difficult. Moreover, it takes a lot of time caring for them to grow.

2. The hot season of the Philippines is also a disadvantage for seeds get dry up easily in few days time.




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It is a fact that people, especially Filipinos, cannot afford to buy medicines from the drug stores. Medicines nowadays are very costly. Therefore, making an herbal tea or medicines out of a narra tree would be a great help to the people. Some sicknesses that a narra tree can cure are the following: diarrhea, arthritis, asthma, and other stomach problems.



Step 1: Pick tree barks, branches, or any part from the narra tree. A young tree is preferred for better effect.

 Step 2: Rinse the parts of the tree that was just picked.

 Step 3: Put the barks in the pot with water and boil.

 Step 4: Let it boil for about an hour.

 Step 5: After boiling, pour the tea in a bottle or container and let it cool.


On May 2, 2008, I went to a squatter area called Baranggay Bungad where there were people who have diarrhea, arthritis, and asthma. I gave them a small cup of narra herbal tea. After a while, they texted me and said that the narra herbal tea had great results on them and asked for more.


1. It is good economically. People can save money. It is also easy to make narra herbal tea.

2. Anyone can take it. The tea does not have toxic or poison in it so it is safe to drink.

3. God provided us plants and trees to eat. It is true that God protects us from harm. However that does not mean that we should do nothing for us to get better if ever we encounter illness. It is people’s job to take good care of our body because the body is God’s temple.


1. Many people do not know how the narra trees look like according to the research. They are also only few of them left. So it will be hard for the people to find them.



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