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Nagkesar, Ceylon Ironwood (Mesua ferrea)

Nagkesar, Mesua ferrea

Description of Plant

Beautiful evergreen tree of nagakesar grows up to height of 30mt in height, buttressed at base about 90cm in diameter. Pendulous leaves are 8-15cm long and are simple, narrow, lanceolate, opposite and dark grey to dark green in color. Bark of the tree is dark ash grey in color and branches are glabrous and slender. Flowers of the tree are bisexual about 4-7cm in diameter with four white petals and yellow stamen. Fruit is globose to ovoid capsule and fruit capsule contains 1-2 seeds that are dark brown in color. Cotyledon of the seeds is fleshy and oily. Flowering season is between March to July while fruits are seen during October to November. Hard wood of Mesua is dark deep red in color.

General Information

Nagakesar is well known plant famous for both medicinal and economical values. It is one common herb among chaturjata group. Nagkesar is slow growing tree well known for hardness and heaviness of its wood. Because of its graceful shape it is cultivated as ornamental tree. In ayurvedic medicine system this herb is famous for its medicinal values to treat fever, migraine, vomiting and urinary tract infections. Flowers are astringent and contain various oils and oleo resins. Flower oil is reddish or dark brown in color and stamens of flowers is called kesar. Main chemical compound present in this herb is meusol. Other chemical compounds available in this herb are mesuaferron, euxanthon, mesuaferrol, mesuagin, mammegin, mesuol, mammeuisin and bioflavin etc.

Heartwood of this herb is very strong and used in the construction of beams, flooring and furniture. Hard wood is used to construct rail lines. Seeds are powerhouse of energy and proteins. Flowers are used in stuffing pillows and used for many other purposes like dyes and cosmetics.


  • English name - Iron wood of Assam, Ceylon iron wood, Cobra's saffron
  • Latin name - Mesua ferrea
  • Hindi name - Naghas, Nagkesar
  • Assam name - Naboor, Nahor
  • Bihar name - Nagkeshur
  • Bengali name - Nagesar
  • Kannada name - Kanchana
  • Malayalam name - Nagachempakam
  • Marathi name - Nagachampa, Nagakeshra
  • Punjabi name - Naga kesar
  • Tamil name - Irul, Karunangu
  • Telugu name - Naga Kesaralu, Kesaramu
  • Guajarati name - Nagkesara, Nagchampa
  • Oriya name - Nageshvar
  • Farsi name - Naremushk
  • Thai name - Bunnak, Bhra na kaw
  • Philippine name - Kaliuas
  • Urdu name - Narmiksha
  • Malaysian name - Penaga
  • Italian name - Croco di cobra
  • German name - Nagassamen
  • Arabic name - Narae-Kaisar
  • Russian name - Mezua zheleznaia
  • Chinese name - Tie li mu
  • Malay name - Nagasari, Penaga
  • Japanese name - Tagayasan
  • Burmese name - Gungen, Kenga
  • Vietnam name - Vap


Mesua is native to tropical regions of Sri Lanka. Mesua is mainly found in wet tropical region of India and Sri Lanka. It grows up to altitude of 1500mt in Eastern and Western Ghats in India. In Assam it is easily available and it is also called iron wood of Assam. It is also found in Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia. It also grows in various parts of Tamil Nadu, Travancore and Andaman islands.

Ayurvedic Properties

Hindi / Sanskrit English
Rasa Kashay, Tikta Taste Astringent, Bitter
Guna Laghu, Ruksha, Tikshna Physical Property Light, Dry, Sharp
Virya Ushna Potency Hot
Vipaka Katu Metabolic Property (After Digestion) Pungent

Effects on Doshas

It balances vata and kapha dosha.

Shushrut Samhita Ashtang sangrah Ashtang hriday Bhavprakash
  • Anjanadi gana
  • Eladi gana
  • Vachadi gana
  • Priyangvadi gana
  • Anjanadi gana
  • Eladi gana
  • Vachadi gana
  • Priyangvadi gana
  • Anjanadi gana
  • Eladi gana
  • Vachadi gana
  • Priyangvadi gana
  • Karpuradi varga

Ancient Verse about Mesua Ferrea

Ancient verse about Mesua ferrea
Ancient verse about Mesua ferrea
  • Nagpushp, nag, keshar, nagkeshar, champey, nagkijjlak, and kanchannhay all are synonyms of mesua.
  • Mesua is astringent in taste with hot potency. This herb is light and dry and it helps in digestion. It is used to cure fever, itching, thirst, sweating, vomiting, relieves nausea, bad odor of mouth and leprosy. It is used to pacify kapha and pitta dosha and very effective herb to treat poisoning.

Practical uses of Mesua ferrea

  • Nagakesar is a versatile herb with anti-inflammatory properties and used to treat various ailments. Its flowers also contain medicinal oil that is also beneficial for various disorders.
  • This herb is used to improve digestive fire and helps to reduce the harmful effects of ama (toxins). It is also beneficial to treat disorders of digestive system and worm infestation.
  • Flower stem has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Flower buds are used in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery.
  • This herb is hemostatic in nature and it act as blocking agent for bleeding. It is very beneficial herb for treating bleeding piles and menstrual bleeding.
  • Poultice of leaves are applied on head and chest to treat cold and cough.
  • Seed oil is used to reduce inflammation and to cure rheumatism.
  • It is also used for treating skin related disorders like burning sensation, itching, scabies and leprosy.
  • Being a cardiac tonic and it is very effective in cardiac debility.
  • This herb is aphrodisiac and used in the treatment of menorrhagia.
  • Paste of flowers is used externally to cure excessive sweating and it is also used as deodorant for bad odors.
  • Fresh flowers are very beneficial for cough, excessive thirst, perspiration and indigestion.
  • Root of this herb is used as best antidote for snake bite poisoning.
  • Ripe and unripe fruits are best used for gastric troubles.
  • Flowers are used to treat asthma and impotency.
  • It is used to pacify kapha and pitta dosha.

Ayurvedic products from Mesua ferrea

Part used

  • Punkesar (stamens)
  • Fruits
  • Seeds
  • Flowers
  • Leaves
  • Buds
  • Bark


  • Powder:- 1-3gm
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Author Bio:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor - Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan

Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan


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Reviewed By:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor in Mohali - Dr. Vikram Chauhan

Dr. Vikram Chauhan


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