A medium sized tree with dark brown nearly smooth bark; young shoots pubescent. Leaves petiolate, petiole 2-3.8 cm long; lamina c. 4.5-15 cm long, as broad as or rather broader than long, with a medium cleft reaching from 1 /4 to 1/3 the way down, lobes obtuse, the base is deeply heart shaped, 9-15 nerved, pubescent beneath when young. Inflorescence few flowered pubescent raceme. Pedicel short or absent, bracteole minute; hypanthium slender, c. 1.2-2.5 cm long. Calyx 2.0-2.7 cm long, tomentose, 5 toothed at the apex. Petals 5-6.3 cm long, obovate, with long rather broad claw, all white or 4 petals pale purple and fifth darker with purple veins. Stamens 5, fertile, no staminodes. Ovary hairy, stipe 10-17 mm long; style long, stigma capitate. Pods 15.0-30 cm long, c. 1-2.5 cm broad, hard, flat, dehiscent 10-15 seeded; stipe glabrous.
Fl. Per.: Feb.-April.
Neotype: Bengal, Bogra, Bodhupore, 16.2.1897, Reporter on Economic Products to the Government of India 12187 (de Wit, l.c.)
The specimen in the Linnaean Herbarium, London, sheet no. 525/2 bears in Linnaeus's handwriting ‘5 virgata’. But as the specimen is devoid of flowers or buds, which Linnaeus has described, de Wit (l.c.) has rejected it and selected a neotype.
Distribution: Kashmir; W. Pakistan; India (Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, Assam, Central India, Madras; Sikkim); Nepal; Burma; China; widely cultivated in tropics.
Generally cultivated as an ornamental plant. The leaves are given to cattle as fodder, flowers are used as pot herb and also made into pickles; wood is used in buildings and for making agricultural implements. The plant yields gum; the bark is used for dyeing and tanning. The plant is reputed to have medicinal properties also; the root is tonic and carminative, the flowers laxative and the bark astringent; various parts of the plant are reputed to have healing properties also.