Online Manual for the Forest Tree Seeds of Kerala

A Kerala Forest Department Funded Project


Dr. K Sudhakara
Professor & Head of the Department
Dept. of Silviculture & Agroforestry
College of Forestry, Kerala Agricultural University, Thrissur 680 656
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Scientific Name  Acacia catechu (L.f.) Willd.
Vernacular name  Khair (Marathi and Hindi); Sundra, Kadiram (Tamil) (Bose et al., 1998). Karinnali, Khadiram (Malayalam) (CSIR, 1948).
Common name  Cutch tree (Bose et al., 1998), Khair
Synonyms  Acacia sundra; Acacia wallichiana; Acacia catechuoides Wall; A. polycantha Willd., Mimosa catechu L.f. (Sasidharan, 2004).
Family  Leguminosae
Subfamily  Mimosoideae
Origin 
Distribution  Throughout the greater parts of India, except in the humid regions; found in the dry type of forest in the highland away from water resources. Common throughout the sub-Himalayan tract from Punjab to Assam, ascending to an altitude of 1200 m, generally gregarious on islands and on the banks of rivers at their entrance into the plains. It is quite common in the Aravally Hills and in Western Peninsular region, particularly in the drier parts, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu; also in China (Brandis, 1921; Bose et al., 1998).
Description  A moderate sized deciduous tree, with a light feathery crown, the branchlet slender, thorny, glabrous, brown or purple, shining (Brandis, 1921; CSIR, 1948).
Flowering season  May, July to August (Bose et al., 1998). June to August (CSIR, 1948).
Fruiting season  September to October and are fully ripen by January (CSIR, 1948).
Flowers  White flowering spikes, 5-8.75 cm long, pale yellow flowers in cylindrical spikes (CSIR, 1948).
Fruits  Pods are 5-10 cm long, broad, straight, flat, dark brown, shiny and with a triangular beak at the apex and narrowed at the base. Pods are glabrous, flat and oblong (CSIR, 1948).
Fruit type  Pod.
Seeds  0.5 - 0.625 cm, broadly ovate or orbicular dark greenish brown, smooth, shining, moderately hard, with a hard testa. Electron microscopic studies show a characteristic spermoderm pattern on seeds (Vyas and Sharma, 1998).
Seed length 
Seed width 
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  40000/kg (Srivastava et al., 2006).
Seed dispersal  Wind dispersal (Ram Parkash et al., 1998).
Seed Collection  Seeds dispersed by wind are collected from ground (Ram Parkash et al., 1998).
Transportation of seeds 
Seed processing  Pods are dried in the sun for a few days, then beaten with sticks and seeds separated by shaking and winnowing (Ram Parkash et al., 1998).
Seed storage  Before storage, the seeds are dried in open shade in sealed plastic container with silica gel (Archana Sharma and Tiwari, 1999). Seeds do not store well for more than 6-8 months (Ram Parkash et al., 1998).
Viability period  6-8 months (Ram Parkash et al., 2004).
Seed emptiness 
Seed pre treatment  Soak the seeds in boiled water for 6 hrs. Soaking in plain water for 4-6 hrs also gives good results (Edwards and Naithani, 1999). A seed pretreatment with 5% CMC (carboxy methyl cellulose) medium enhance germination in Acacia catechu and increase root and shoot growth (Harsh and Ojha, 2000). Seed soaking in 60% H2SO4 for 10 min stimulate seed germination (Archana Sharma and Wadhera, 2000). Treating seeds with GA3 and a higher temperature (25 rather than 20oC) stimulate seed germination (Ranjana Bhagat, 1994). Seeds stored for a period of three or five months, treated with acid(?) and germinated at 30oC brought significantly maximum increase in germination within first six days (Atul et al., 2002). Iodine treatments are effective in improving germination percentage (Khan, 2001). Seeds soaked in Niagara (ethyl hydrogen-1-propyl phosphonate) 500 ppm give 96.6% germination and result in increased length, width and area of the cotyledons and the fresh and dry wt. of the hypocotyl 5 days after germination compared with untreated control seedlings (Singh et al., 1985).
Germination type  Epigeous. Small-sized seeds show higher germination (Neeraj Khera and Singh, 2005) and water stress conditions cause inhibition of seed germination (Saxena et al., 1998).
Germination percentage  60 to 80 at 30oC (Girase et al., 2002; Khullar et al., 1991).
Germination period  30 days (Khullar et al., 1991).
Nursery technique  Sowing is done in nursery beds in February-March, spacing 20 cm x 2 cm; about 1.5 cm deep. Beds are weeded and watered regularly, spacing of seedlings 5 cm apart in lines (Ram Parkash et al., 1998). Sand+clay+farmyard manure (FYM) (1:1:2) medium give good germination and Sand+clay+FYM (1:1:1) give good establishment (Atul et al., 2002). Foliar spray of phosphoric acid (0.3%), DAP (2%) and urea (1-3%) increase the growth and dry weight of seedlings (Chaplot and Mahnot, 2001).
Method of propagation  By seeds.
Vegetative propagation  Air layering (Raman Nagpal and Sunil Puri,1986). Softwood cuttings treated with 100 mg/litre IBA give 50% success rate (Nilum et al., 1995).
Pests  An unidentified pest causes heavy infestation of seeds (Wali ur Rehman, 1993). Microtermes mycophagus is reported from plantations (Verma, 1989).
Diseases  Heart rot caused by Fomes badius and root rot caused by Ganoderma lucidum and Polyporus gilvus. Species should be grown in group mixtures with non-susceptible species (Bakshi, 1957). Infection after pollarding by Ganoderma endochroum (Neil, 1990). Ganoderma lucidum also infect young plantations (Bakshi, 1974).
Medicinal properties  Bark is useful in passive diarrhoea, decoction is given internally in leprosy, cooling and digestive, applied externally to ulcers. Katha has long been used in Indian Medicine. It is regarded as astringent, cooling and digestive, used in relaxed conditions of the throat, mouth and gums, also in cough and diarrhoea. Externally it is employed as an astringent and as a cooling application to ulcers, boils and eruptions of the skin (CSIR, 1948). Chewing affects predominantly the central and autonomic nervous systems, produce a sense of well-being, euphoria, warm sensation of the body, sweating, salivation, palpitation, heightened alertness and increased capacity to work (Chu NaiShin, 2002).
Uses  Wood is used for house post, agrl. implements, wheels, tool handles, etc. Catechin is extracted from the wood. Cutch or dark catechu is mainly used in dyeing cotton and silk and in calico-printing. Cutch is used in the dyeing of ship sails and mail-bags (CSIR, 1948).
Wood properties  Sapwood is yellowish white, heartwood dark or light red, very hard and durable. Weight 1,009 kg/m3. The wood sometimes is lustrous, with quite a smooth feel, without characterstic odour or taste, heavy to very heavy, straight grained, medium to coarse-textured (CSIR, 1948). Pores moderate sized and large, often subdivided, occasionally in radial groups of 2 or 3, and surrounded by narrow rings are soft tissue, which are often joined and form interrupted concentric bands; they are frequently filled with a white substance, are fairly uniformly distributed, and are distinctly marked on a longitudinal section. Medullary rays short, moderately broad, numerous, bent where they touch the pores (Gamble, 1922).
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