Blue Marble Tree (Elaeocarpus ganitrus)
, is a large evergreen broad-leaved tree whose seed is traditionally used for prayer beads in Hinduism. The seeds are known as rudraksha, or rudraksh, Sanskrit: rudrākṣa
("Rudra's teardrops"). Rudraksha may be produced by several species of Elaceocarpus, however E. ganitrus
is the principal species used in the making of mala.
Blue Marble Tree grows in the area from the Gangetic plain in the foothills of the Himalayas to South-East Asia, Indonesia, New Guinea, Guam, and Hawaii. Rudraksha seeds are covered by an outer husk of blue colour when fully ripe, and for this reason are also known as blueberry beads. The blue colour is not derived from pigment but is structural. It is an evergreen tree that grows quickly. The rudraksha tree starts bearing fruit in three to four years. As the tree matures, the roots buttress rising up narrowly near the trunk and radiating out along the surface of the ground.
Blue Marble Tree is a fast growing, large, spreading, distinctive, rainforest tree, growing to 35 m tall. It is native to Australia. Alternately arranged oblong-elliptical leaves, 10-18 cm long, have shallow, toothed margins. Leaves are dark green above. Flowers are greenish or white, bell-shaped, with 5 fringed petals, in numerous racemes borne along branches from leaf scars. The white flowers in summer are followed by metallic blue fruits 3 cm diameter, which contain a hard pitted centre. Fruit stones were used by native Australians for necklaces. The natives were known to make up an edible paste of the ripe fruit by squashing them into a bark trough filled with water.
The seeds are valued as a remedy for blood pressure and heart ailments. The fruit is used in the treatment of diseases of the head and epileptic fits. The leaf sap is used to cure stomach-ache or pain in the chest and shoulders. In the Philippines, there is one record of the bark being applied to treat an enlarged spleen.