Butter Tree - Madhuca spp. (Sapotaceae)

Medicinal Use of Butter Tree – Madhuca spp. (Sapotaceae)


Deciduous tree growing to 65 ft (20 m). Has leathery leaves, clusters of scented white flowers, and greenish fruit.

Habitat & Cultivation

Madhuca species are native to central and northern India. The flowers, leaves, and seeds are gathered in summer.

Parts Used

Flowers, seed oil.


The leaves contain an alkaloid and a saponin; the seeds a saponin and fixed oil.

History & Folklore

Butter tree has been a source of food and medicine in India for at least 2,000 years. Its flowers are eaten and are fermented to make alcoholic drinks.

Medicinal Actions & Uses

The expectorant flowers are used to treat chest problems such as bronchitis. They are also taken to increase breast-milk production. The leaves are applied as a poultice to eczema. The seed oil is laxative and is taken for constipation and to loosen the stool of hemorrhoid sufferers.