Black cutch is a deciduous, thorny tree which grows up to 15 m (50 ft) in height.
The plant is called khair
in Hindi, and kachu
in Malay, hence the name was Latinized to "catechu" in Linnaean taxonomy , as the type-species from which the extracts cutch and catechu are derived. Common names for it include Kher, catechu, cachou, cutch tree and black catechu.
Black Cutch tree is a small tree, growing 3-15 m high. The stem is dark brown to black, with rough bark which peels off in long strips in mature trees; young trees have corky bark. The fern-like leaves are 100-200 mm long and contain between 8 and 30 pairs of small leaves made up of numerous, oblong pairs of secondary leaflets 2-6 mm long. Glands occur on the stem below the first pair of leaves, and between the uppermost six pairs of leaves. Pairs of stout thorns up to 10 mm long are found at the base of each leaf. The flowers are white or pale yellow, about 3 mm long and bunched tightly together to form a cylindrical flower spike, 35-75 mm long, resembling a lamb's tail. The brown, beaked seed pods are 50-125 mm long on a short stalk and contain between four and seven seeds, which are dark brown, flat and 5-8 mm in diameter. The taproot branches to 2 m depth.
Black Cutch is a medicinal plant used for varied purposes. The bark of this plant is strong antioxidant, astringent, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antifungal in nature. The extract of this plant is used to treat sore throats and diarrhoea, also useful in high blood pressure, dysentery, colitis, gastric problems, bronchial asthma, cough, leucorrhoea and leprosy. It is used as mouthwash for mouth, gum, sore throat, gingivitis, dental and oral infections. The heartwood is used to yield concentrated aqueous extract i.e. cutch which is astringent, cooling and digestive. It is useful in cough, ulcers, boils and eruptions of the skin. Decoction of the bark is given internally in case of leprosy. Acacia
spp. produces gum exudates, traditionally called gum Arabic or gum Acacia, which are widely used in the food industry such as emulsifiers, adhesives, stabilizers and in chronic renal failure