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 Post subject: The Masan Tree
 Post Posted: Sun Nov 06, 2005 1:28 am 
Twiggy and angular: That’s the Masan

@ ST / Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Masan is a fairly small tree usually growing to a maximum height of 4m. The leaves of the Masan are broad and oblong to oval in shape with irregular margins and hairy undersides. At the base of most leaves are prickles, known as stipular prickles because of their location. One of the prickles is curved and one is straight.


D.V.Cowen says that this tree can be difficult to identify because it varies a lot, “not only in size but in the colour of the leaf and in the size and shape of the fruit. Sometimes the spines at the base of the leaf stalks are pairs, sometimes singly and frequently absent altogether” (in Flowering Trees and Shrubs in India).

The trunk of the tree is branched and is dark grey with deep longitudinal fissures. The wood is pale reddish, heavy and hard and makes good timber.The flowers of the Masan are greenish white and are tiny but appear in clusters. The fruits are yellow and the shape of a drupe. The size of a large cherry they have a hard kernel which is surrounded by acidic pulp. These fruits are edible and have medicinal qualities. The syrup of the dried fruit is used for bronchitis.


The Masan is known as Kakuru in Sinhala, and Illantai or Nari – Illantai in Tamil. The scientific name is Zizyphus jujube and it is commonly referred to as the Common Jujube.

This herb is traditionally used for weakness, fatigue, debility, restlessness, hysteria and to assist in the actions of other herbs, as we believe it does in this formula. This herb contains vitamins A, B-2, C, calcium, phosphorus, iron and complex sugars. This herb is considered to nourish both the blood and the energy, which are mutually interdependent.

Jujube seeds are used for medicinal purpose. It is used as a remedy for irritability, insomnia, anxiety, oedema, congestive heart failure, asthma and throat diseases.


Scientific studies with animals have shown Zizyphus jujuba seed to have anti-anxiety and hypnotic effects, causing a reduction in the speed of conditioned reflexes, a reduction in hyperactivity, and a lowering of blood pressure. Oral administration of the decoction of the herb prolonged sodium pentobarbital induced sleep in mice and significantly caused a subthreshold dose of sodium thiopental to induce anesthesia in rabbits. In human clinical studies, a significant tranquilizing effect of Zizyphus was found to measurably potentiate the concurrent administration of tranquilizing drugs.

Other effects of Jujube seed augment its calming and sleep inducing effects, revealing potential for additional product applications. Because of its muscle relaxing effects, the herb is sometimes used as an anticonvulsant. Animal studies have demonstrated it effectiveness in reducing pain sensation and increasing pain tolerance, further substantiating its use as an analgesic. The herb could be useful in products for arthritis, backache, headache or any type of pain that interferes with sleep. In addition, for those with hypertension, Jujube seed has been shown to produce significant, persistent and prolonged reductions in blood pressure

The Masan is found naturally in Sri Lanka, India and in the Philippines. It grows best in the understorey of monsoon forests and in the dry lowlands, also in dry regions, even on poor ground. In earlier times it was well known in the areas of Bibile and Nilgala. Here in Colombo a specimen can be seen in the gardens of the Cathedral and in the grounds of Ladies’ College.

Compiled by Ruk Rakaganno, The Tree Society of Sri Lanka

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