Vern. Khair, Katha.
Mimosa catechu Linn. f.
A small or medium sized tree, up to 15 m tall, deciduous; dark grey or greyish brown bark peeling off in long strips or in narrow rectangular plates, brown and red inside. Young branches puberulous. Leaf bipinnate compound; stipules spiny, flattened, hooked and pointed, up to 8 mm long; rachis c. 7-17 cm long, pilose, with a large gland near the base of the petiole and often several small glands between the pinnae; pinnae 10-30 pairs, c. 1.3-3.5 cm long, pilose; leaflets 16-50 pairs, c. 3-6 mm long, petiolule 1 mm long, base oblique, linear, tip obtuse to subacute, glabrous or pubescent, nerves obscure. Inflorescence 1-4-nate axillary pedunculate spike, 2.5-10 cm long; peduncle c. 1.2-1.8 cm long. Calyx c. 1.2-1.5 mm long, campanulate, pubescent or villous outside, teeth deltoid. Corolla c. 2.4-3.1 mm long, villous or slightly pubescent, lobes ovate, oblong, subacute. Pod 5.0-8.7 cm long, c. 1.0-1.5 cm broad, flat, thin brown, shining, narrowed at the base into a c. 3-7 mm long stalk, triangular beaked at the apex, dehiscent. Seeds 3-10 per fruit.
Fl. Per. May-August.
Type: India—presently untraceable.
Distribution: W. Pakistan, scattered on foothills in Western Himalayas, ascending from 3000 to 4000 ft. Peshawar, Rawalpindi Divisions and Swat State; sometimes planted also in East Pakistan; India, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, Bihar, Madras, Bombay, Assam, Sikkim, Nepal, Burma.
Kath, Katha, Kutch or Catechu, a tannin is extracted from the wood. Kath is used for chewing with betel and Kutch for tanning. Some products are also used in ayurvedic medicine. Wood is considered to be very durable and is not eaten by white ants. It is used for house posts, agricultural implements, wheels etc. It is an excellent firewood and one of the best woods for charcoal.