The flowers of this shrub bloom at night and enchant the whole world. At daybreak the enchanting spell breaks and normalcy returns as the shrub drops its flowers one by one. Hence the Latin name `arbor tristis` which means `the sad tree`.
Hindus use the flowers for the worship of Lord Krishna, who is believed to have brought this tree from the heavens for one of his favourite consorts, Satyabhama, as narrated in the Vishnu Purana epic. This tree was once a beautiful daughter of a king. She fell in love with the resplendent Sun God, who spurned her affections. Feeling dejected, she committed suicide and was cremated. From her ashes arose this shrub, which sheds its flowers in the morning, unable to face the sun.
The perfume of the flowers is very similar to that of jasmine. The leaves are a reliable substitute for sandpaper: you can polish your furniture with them!
An orange-coloured dye obtained from the flowers is used for colouring silk and cotton fabrics.
The leaves are antibilious and diuretic; useful for curing fevers and rheumatism. The seeds when powdered and made into a paste can be applied to cure scurvy and scalp infections.