The 'palas' or 'palash' or 'dhak' is also called the flame of the forest because its scarlet, crimson - orange flowers with black sepals appear like a blaze of fire when in bloom. The flowers appear soon after winter when the tree has completely shed its leaves.
Besides looking attractive and helping to maintain the ecological balance by fixing the soil and preventing erosion, the tree has several medicinal properties. Its gum is used in the treatment of dysentry, cough, corneal opacity, ulcers, dyspepsia and sore throat; its flowers for gout, leprosy and skin diseases; its bark and seeds for skin and abdominal problems; and leaves for lumbago, boils and piles.
Till recently vegetable colours were made from the flowers of the 'palas' and used during the festival of Holi.