Baheda (Termanlia belerica) is a large deciduous tree found all over Haryana and the rest of Indian subcontinent. It belongs to the plant family Combretaceae. Its natural habitat starts from Burma in the east and passing over India up to Afghanistan in the west. Baheda grows well from 300 to 1200 m. It generally grows in forests having a mixed crop of Sal, pines, Khair, Jamun, Mango, Harar, Amla, etc. Well-drained calcarious soil suits it best.
Baheda attains a height up to 30 m and a girth of 3 to 4 m in about 75 years. It has a big spreading umbrella like crown. Its wood is light gray to yellowish, cross grained and hard, though not very durable. Weighing about 25 kg per cubic foot, it can be used for construction of cheap buildings, especially for doors, windows and roof members. It is also used for agricultural implements, packing cases, firewood and for making charcoal. The abvoid oblong-shaped fruit is of 2 to 3 cm diameter. It is brownish in color having short dense hair cover.
Baheda bark has uneven longitudinal furrows and is bluish to ash gray in color. Its leaves are alternate, crowded towards the end of branches, obvate elliptic in shape 10 to 20 cm long and 3 to 6 cm wide — slightly pale on the lower side. Its flowers are about 5 m in diameter of pale white to green in color. These emit a peculiar unpleasant scent.
Baheda trees flower during April-May. Fruit appear during June-July and ripen during October-November. The trees is considered valuable for its fruits which is one of the myrobalans. Baheda fruit is favorite with monkeys and the kernel is enjoyed by village children. The leaves form a favorite fodder for domestic cattle as well as wild animals like deer, Neelgai, etc. The oil extracted from the kernel is used for its soothing effect on the hair.
Baheda fruit is used in Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine for stomach disorders, insomnia, high blood pressure, headache, diabetes, ulcer, etc. Its paste when applied on eyelids, acts as a soothing lotion. Its preparations are also used in piles, leprosy, dropsy and fever. Half-ripe Baheda fruit acts as a purgative while the ripe and dried one has the opposite effect. Veterinarians also make a wide use of myrobolans, especially Baheda, its extracts and various preparations.
Baheda seedlings come up automatically under the mother trees. However, with a view to popularizing its propagation in vacant lands and roadside avenues, the government forest departments raise its nursery and supply the seedlings at a highly subsidized rate. Due to its many uses, as well as for beautification of the landscape, planting of Baheda trees is required by all concerned.
Note: Myrobalans is the name given to the astringent fruits of several species of trees belonging to the genus Terminalia, largely used for dyeing and tanning. They are large deciduous trees and belong to the family Combretaceae.