Bhut-vriksha/Shyonak/ Tree of Damocles/ Indian Trumpet Flower/ Midnight horror/Broken Bones Plant (Oroxylum indicum) is native to the Himalayan foothills and grows to a height of 20-25 feet. The large reddish-purple (pinkish-yellow within) flowers bloom at night and are pollinated by bats!
The enoromous purple-brown, flat seed pods (often four feet in length) hang down from bare branches appearing like the hanging swords of Damocles or the wings of a large bird like the vulture.
The large leaf stalks wither and fall in a sinister pile at the base of the tree that resembles a pile of bones!! The spooky appearance of the tree lends it the name – ‘bhut’ (ghost) ‘vriksh’ (tree). The seeds are flat and round with papery wings. The seeds and the root bark are used in Ayurvedic formulations including the ‘Chyawanprash’.