Mahua/Mahwa (Bassia latifolia/ B. longifolia/ Madhuca indica) is a fast growing evergreen/semi-evergreen tree that is prominent in the tropical mixed deciduous forests of India. It is adapted to arid conditions and can grow upto 20 metres.The oleaginous seeds yield fat/oil that is used for skin care, as a laxative and for treating rheumatism, headaches, haemorrhoids etc It in used in soaps and detergents and as vegetable butter. It is used as fuel oil (illuminant) by the tribals. The seed cakes, i.e., the residual after oil extraction, are useful as fertilizer. A single tree can produce from 20 to 200 KG of seeds in a year. The flowers are used for preparing alcohlic drinks by the tribals of Odisha, Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand.The bark and flowers have medicinal properties.The leaves are fed on by a moth, Antheraea paphia, which produces the ‘tassar’ silk, a popular form of wild silk in India.
Morni landscape is blessed with the naturally occuring Mahua Tree. However, unlike the tribals of eastern India, the morni hill people have little knowledge of the uses of mahua oil or flowers.