Nagkesar – Mesua Ferrea

Nagkesar / Nageswar / Cobra saffron / Ceylon ironwood / Indian rose chestnut is evergreen slow-growing tree about 20-30 m tall, often buttressed at the base with a trunk up to 2 m (6-7ft) in diameter. , and large, fragrant white flowers. It is native to wet, tropical parts of Sri Lanka, India, southern Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Indochina, the Philippines, Malaysia and Sumatra. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental due to its graceful shape, grayish-green foliage with a beautiful pink to red flush of drooping young leaves, and large, fragrant white flowers. the wood of this tree is very heavy, hard and strong and is mainly used for railroad ties and heavy structural timber. The flowers, leaves, seeds and roots are used in Ayurvedic medicine and in Nag Champa* incense sticks.

Plant parts possess anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antibacterial, anti-hemorrhagic and anthelmintic (deworming) properties, traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine.


  • The seed kernels or flower stamens are pounded with seed oil and used as a poultice to heal wounds and control bleeding.
  • Seed oil is used to treat itching, scabies and other skin rashes, dandruff, and rheumatism.
  • Dried flowers are used to treat bleeding hemorrhoids.
  • Fresh flowers are used to improve digestion and as cough remedy.
  • Flower paste is used in the treatment of amoebic dysentery (dysentery with mucus).
  • A decoction of dried flowers is drunk by women after childbirth as a tonic.
  • The leaves are used for severe colds, fever, eye inflammation and leprosy.
  • A fruit paste is applied to the boils.
  • The root of this plant is often used as an antidote for snake poison.
  • The fragrant flowers are used in perfumery (Nagchampa perfume), incense, cosmetics and soaps

Cautions: individual intolerance.

Contraindications and side effects: pregnancy, breastfeeding period and persons with individual intolerance to plant components. An allergic reaction is possible

* Magnolia champaca is mostly used to prepare the Nag champa scent, while Plumeria or Mesua ferrea may be used for scents termed Champa and sometimes Nag champa.