Holoptelea integrifolia, the Indian elm or jungle cork tree, is a species of elm native to most of Indian subcontinent, Indo-China and Myanmar. It is found mostly on plains but also in mountains on elevations up to 1100 m.
The Indian elm is a large deciduous tree, about 20–25 m tall (rarely over 30 m), with a broad crown featuring several ascending branches. Bark is grey in colour, covered with blisters, peeling in corky scales on old trees. Leaves are alternately arranged, elliptic-ovate in shape, 8–13 cm long and 3–6.5 cm wide, smooth, with entire margins (occasionally toothed), and a pointed tip. Leaf base is rounded or heart-shaped. Stipules are lance-shaped. Crushed leaves emit an unpleasant odour. Flowers are small, greenish-yellow to brownish, pubescent, borne in short racemes or fascicles at the scars of fallen leaves. Sepals are velvety, often 4. Fruit is a circular samara, 2.5 cm in diameter, with membranous, net-veined wings, and flat seed.
Cultivation and uses
Holoptelea integrifolia is used for timber which makes cheap furniture and also used as firewood in rural parts. It is also used in ecological forestry for its heat and drought tolerance and regenerative abilities. Its flowers, leaves and bark have medicinal uses against several diseases.
Holoptelea integrifolia (Ulmaceae) is a versatile medicinal plant used in various indigenous systems of medicine for curing routine healthcare maladies. It is traditionally used in the treatment and prevention of several ailments like leprosy, inflammation, rickets, leucoderma, scabies, rheumatism, ringworm, eczema, malaria, intestinal cancer, and chronic wounds. In vitro and in vivo pharmacological investigations on crude extracts and isolated compounds showed antibacterial, antifungal, analgesic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anthelmintic, antidiabetic, antidiarrhoeal, adaptogenic, anticancer, wound healing, hepatoprotective, larvicidal, antiemetic, CNS depressant, and hypolipidemic activities. Phytochemical analysis showed the presence of terpenoids, sterols, saponins, tannins, proteins, carbohydrates, alkaloids, phenols, flavonoids, glycosides, and quinines. Numerous compounds including Holoptelin-A, Holoptelin-B, friedlin, epifriedlin, β-amyrin, stigmasterol, β-sitosterol, 1, 4-napthalenedione, betulin, betulinic acid, hexacosanol, and octacosanol have been identified and isolated from the plant species. The results of several studies indicated that H. integrifolia may be used as an effective therapeutic remedy in the prevention and treatment of various ailments. However, further studies on chemical constituents and their mechanisms in exhibiting certain biological activities are needed. In addition, study on the toxicity of the crude extracts and the compounds isolated from this plant should be assessed to ensure their eligibility to be used as source of modern medicines.