Bhanna plants used to be grown commercially in every village of Jashore’s Chougachha upazila as oil from its seed was once a well-liked commodity in rural areas.
But over time, with the waning popularity of Bhanna oil, the plants are hardly found in the upazila nowadays.
Kangsharipur area, presently under Ward 3 of Chougachha municipality, had so many Bhanna plants that people used to call it ‘Bhanna village’.
Local species of the plant is usually five to six feet tall, with sharp and multifaceted leaves. Bhanna fruits are not plucked until they dry up in the sun. Dry seeds are then collected to be threshed for oil.
In the western world and in neighbouring countries, Bhanna or castor oil remains a popular natural treatment for common conditions like constipation and skin ailments and is commonly used in natural beauty products. The oil is also said to cure hair loss and effective in regrowth of hair.
Locals say that regular application of Bhanna oil helps grow thicker, longer eyelashes and eyebrows and reduce skin wrinkle. Some say it can heal sprained muscles.
Devraj Kumar Biswas, a college teacher from Kangsharipur village, said, “I used to apply Bhanna oil as skin lotion when I was young. Our elders used to say that the oil is very useful. My father and uncles used to make Bhanna oil from its seed.”
Bhanna plants are no longer seen in the village and unfortunately, the future generations will not be able to recognise the plant, he added.
Contacted, Hirak Kumar Sarker, upazila agricultural officer in Chougachha, said though Bhanna oil has many health benefits, it is no longer seen in the area as it used to be seen before.
The plant does not need much care and it easily grows on unusable land by the road, he also said.