Lagerstroemia speciosa, the tropical flowering tree is one of the most outstanding summer bloomers. Lagerstroemia speciosa or banaba tree is a larger form of the more commonly grown L. indica (Crape myrtle.) It is called Queen Crape Myrtle because it’s the Queen of the Crape Myrtles, dominating with grand size and larger, crinkled flowers. The name Crape myrtle is given to these tree/shrubs because of the flowers which look as if made from delicate crape paper. Banaba tree is grown in South East Asia, India and the Philippines & is also widely cultivated as an ornamental plant in tropical and subtropical areas.
Lagerstroemia or Banaba tree is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of materials. The wood is of good quality, considered to be one of the best timber trees in Myanmar and Assam, and is often traded. One of the most strikingly showy of flowering trees, and a good shade tree, it is commonly cultivated in gardens or along the sides of roads for its brightly coloured purple or pink flowers.
Lagerstroemia tree bark is useful to control loose motions and abdominal pain in various medical conditions. Banaba Leaves and dried fruits are traditionally made into herbal tea (known as Banaba Tea in Philippines) & consumed to support lowering of high blood pressure & blood sugar and kidney functions. Banaba leaves extracts available as health supplements, purportedly effective for blood sugar control and weight loss.
Modern medical research shows that banaba leaf extracts promotes hypoglycemic (glucose- lowering) effects due to presence of tannins & triterpene acid called Corosolic which supports glucose metabolism. Scientific studies also showed promising effects of banaba leaf extracts on controlling blood cholesterol levels when consumed in recommended dosage on regular basis.