Chikrasi Tree (Hickory Family)
Chukrasia tabularis (Meliaceae)
Origin: Southeast Asia
A giant tree capable of reaching over a hundred feet in height, the Chikrasi here at Selby Gardens was planted thirty years ago and is now blooming for the first time. This enormous tree had previously engulfed a traffic light on U.S. 41 and is now kept in serious check by line-clearance pruning by our local power provider. The tree has a fine wood coveted by wood turners and cabinet-makers alike, and peels easily to make a high-quality veneer. The astringent bark has a history of ayurvedic use in India, and is currently under pharmacological study.
When trees are young, they resemble another ayurvedic plant, the Neem tree, except that the leaf margin of the Chikrasi is smooth, whereas the Neem’s is serrated. Both trees have small, cream-colored flowers, and thrive in monsoon-fed areas with good drainage. Chukrasia has a tendency to colonize areas where nothing is currently growing, and can be found growing alongside roads and ditches in its native range. When found in a forest setting, the tree’s canopy completely dominates everything around it.
Text by David Troxell