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Blinding tree

Botanical Name Excoecaria agallocha Linn.
Common NameBlinding tree, Tejbala (Hindi), Thillai (Tamil), Ugaru (Sanskrit)

Distribution

Western Ghats and the Pichavaram swamps
Lord Nataraja


Religious association

The tree is associated with Lord Nataraja (dancing form of Lord Shiva). The town of Chidambaram, which is renowned for its Nataraja temple, was once covered with thillai forest.

Uses

The tree sap is used by coastal communities as a fish and arrow poison. Various parts of the plant are used in traditional medicine to cure sores and also stings from marine creatures. The tree is also being tested for medical uses. Clinical trials have shown that the plant has anti-tumour, anti-HIV and anti-bacterial properties.

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