Kewda(Pandanus odoratissimus) orkevra or kewra fragrance is mainly extracted from the male flowers. Registered under the Geographical Indications (GI) of Goods Registration and Protection Act by GoI, Kewda is mainly produced in Ganjam district, Odisha. Though Kewda flowers and fragrance extract is found in all over India, the 90 percent of the production happens in Gopalpur, Jagannathpur, Brahmapur and Chhatrapur area of Ganjam district.
The flower grows on small trees and shrubs. The plant can be cultivated as well as can be seen growing in the wild in the coastal area. If you have been to any coastal area, you can see fresh flower bouquets made of kewda flowers, especially in Odisha. The tree or shrub can reach over 18 feet. The plant has aerial roots as well, these are formed especially when it is growing in the wild and need Oxygen. It has thorns as well.
A fully developed kewda tree would produce spikes consisting of 30-40 flowers, each weighing about 6 inches.
Types of kewra flower:
The male and female flowers are produced on different plants. The male flowers are called Ketaki Viphala and female flowers are called Swarna Ketaki in Sanskrit. The plant flowers three times a year, in summer, monsoon and winter. July-September or monsoon season is the best time for the flowers to bloom, with 60 percent flowers growing in the season.
Male Kewra Flowers:
Male kewra flowers have rose-like sweet and fruity fragrance. Only the male flowers are used to extract fragrance.
Female Kewra Flowers:
Female kewra flowers have no fragrance and hence, left as it is to develop into fruits.
Use of Kewra
Kewra is used as a food flavour and in aromatic industry. It is also used in Ayurveda to provide symptomatic relief in diabetes, fever, joint pain, earache and to manage threatened abortion as well as psychiatric conditions. Kewda is very popular among medicinal plants.
Types of Kewra Extracts
Kewra Ruh (Oil)
Extracted from male flowers, it is 100 percent pure oil. 370 pounds of oil is extracted in bhattis by processing over 1,200 flowers. This is used in Ayurveda to heal degenerative diseases.
Kewra Attar (Perfume)
With only three to five percent of the kewra oil and the rest of sandalwood oil, it is mainly used in aromatic, perfumery and cosmetics industry.
Kewra Jal (Hydrosol)
The kewra jal is produced as a primary product from low-quality flowers or it is mainly a secondary product developed in the production of either oil or attar. Kewra water is only 0.02 percent of kewra oil. 20 flowers can produce kewra jal, which is mainly used to mildly flavour desserts like rasmalai, gulab jamun or rasgulla. Sometimes, it is also used to enrich biryani.
Kewra and Tobacco
Kewra oil is also used to prepare gutka.
Cosmetic use of Kewda
Women in India are used to keep kewda flowers in their clothes to mildly scent them. They also use them to braid their hair. People have been imitating them in gold and silver too.
Ganpati pooja with Kewda flowers
It is believed to be the favourite flower of Lord Ganesha. During festivals, Swarna Gouri Vrata and Varaha Mahalakshmi Pooja, it is offered to the goddesses.
Leaves of Ketaki Flowers:
Leaves are used to make mats, bags and basket while the roots are used to bind them together.