The edible flower of a tree native to the South Pacific and parts of Asia. Especially popular as a food in the Philippines. Also called “Sesbania Flower.”
Katurai is found from northern Luzon to Mindanao in settled areas at low and medium altitudes. It was certainly introduced into the Philippines. This tree occurs also in India to the Mascarene Islands, through Malaysia to tropical Australia, and is planted in other tropical countries.
The tree is 5 to 12 meters in height. The leaves are 20 to 30 ceentimeters long, and pinnate, having 20 to 40 pairs of leaflets, which are 2.5 to 3.5 centimeters long. The flowers are white and 7 to 9 centimeters long. The pods are linear, 20 to 60 centimeters long, 7 to 8 millimeters wide, pendulous, and somewhat curved, and contain many seeds.
Katurai is often planted for its edible flowers and pods. The flowers of katurai are very large and white or pink, and are eaten either raw or cooked in stem. They make an excellent salad. The young pods are eaten like strings beans. This species produce a clear gum used locally as a substitute for gum arabic. Analyses of the flowers show them to an excellent source of calcium and a fair source of iron. According to Hermano and Sepulveda they are a good source of Vitamin B. Dey says that the red gum from the bark resembles Bengal kino. Sanyal and Ghose state that the bark contains tannin and gum.
Dymock reports that the root of he red flowered variety, rubbed into a paste with water, is applied for rheumatism. The juice of the root is given with honey as an expectorant in catarrh.
In the Philippines, Guerrero states that a decoction of the bark is prescribed against haemopthisis. According to Sanyal and Ghose, and Dey, the bark is very astringent, and an infusion of it is given in smallpox and other eruptive fevers. In the Antilles the bitter bark is considered tonic and febrifuge. The bark is also given in diarrhea and dysentery. Duchesne reports that in decoction of he bark is vomitive.
Kirtikar and Basu and Sanyal and Ghose assert that in Bombay the juice of the leaves and flowers is used as a popular remedy for nasal catarrh, and headache. Dymock states that the leaves are said to be aperient. Standley says that diuretic and laxative properties are ascribed to the leaves.
Menaut considers the edible flowers as emollient and laxative.