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  Lagerstroemia microcarpa Wight
Vernacular name  Vellilavu, Venthekku (Malayalam); Venteak, Chennanji, Benteak (Tamil); Benteak (Hindi); Billinandi, Benteak (Kannada) (Chacko et al.,2002)
Common name  Benteak (Chacko et al.,2002)
Synonyms  L. lanceolata Wall. ex Cl.; L. thomsonii Koehne (Sasidharan, 2004; Chacko et al., 2002)
Family  Lythraceae
Distribution  Occurs in the west coast of Indian Peninsula in moist mixed deciduous forests,(FRI, 1984). In Kerala it occurs in moist deciduous and semi - evergreen forests (Chacko et al., 2002). This is one of the most important tree of the West coast of the Indian Peninsula, where it is common along and below the western Ghats from Bombay Southwards to Travancore (Bose et al., 1998).
Description  Moderately fast growing, medium sized to large deciduous tree attaining a height up to 30 m and a breast height diameter of 95 cm (Chacko et al., 2002)
Flowering season  April to June (Bose et al., 1998)
Fruiting season  March (Sen Gupta, 1937; Chacko et al., 2002); Cold season (Bose et al., 1998)
Flowers  Flowers small, white, in large terminal paniculate cymes; calyx hoary, reflexed (Bose et al., 1998)
Fruits  Capsules, ellipsoid, 8-12 mm long
Fruit type  Capsule
Seeds  Small light seeds are enclosed in capsules, that are ellipsoid, smooth, 4-valved, 1.2 to 2 cm long (Chacko et al., 2002)
Seed length  0.8 cm (Chacko et al., 2002)
Seed width 
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  2,68,082 (Sen Gupta, 1937) to 3,00,000 (Nair et al.,2002) seeds/kg (Chacko et al., 2002)
Seed dispersal 
Seed Collection  Ripe capsules, which are brown in colour, are collected from the tree before dehiscence, since the seeds are winged and wind dispersed (FRI, 1984; Chacko et al., 2002)
Transportation of seeds  Capsules collected in cotton/plastic/polythene bags are transported to the processing centre as quickly as possible (Chacko et al.,2002)
Seed processing  Capsules are dried in cloth bags under the sun. By rubbing the capsules, seeds are extracted by hand and cleaned by winnowing (Chacko et al.,2002)
Seed storage  Intermediate (CABI, 1998; Chacko et al., 2002). Seeds are stored in airtight containers for 6 months in cold conditions (Chacko et al., 2002)
Viability period  Seeds retain viability for about 6 months (Chacko et al.,2002)
Seed emptiness  Moderate (Chacko et al.,2002)
Seed pre treatment  Cold water soaking for 24 hrs (Chacko et al.,2002)
Germination type  Epigeal(Chacko et al.,2002)
Germination percentage  2 to 20 (FRI, 1984; Chacko et al.,2002)
Germination period  8 to 66 days (FRI, 1984; Chacko et al., 2002)
Nursery technique  Seeds are sown in germination trays filled with vermiculite and watered regularly. After one month the seedlings are pricked out into 22.5 x 17.5 cm polybags. Seedlings are ready for planting in the next planting season (Rai, 1999; Chacko et al., 2002)
Method of propagation  Stump cuttings (Chacko et al.,2002)
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  No information (Chacko et al.,2002)
Diseases  Moderate to High (24 to 94 %). 23 fungi belonging to 19 genera and actinomycetes are recorded. Fusarium semitectum, Alternaria sp., Curvularia sp., Drechslera sp., Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, Helminthosporium sp., Phoma sp., etc are the important spermoplane fungi (Mohamed Ali and Sharma, 1996; Mohanan and Sharma, 1991 and Chacko et al., 2001). Damping-off caused by Pythium middletonii is observed in L. microcarpa (Mohamed Ali and Sharma, 1996)
Medicinal properties 
Uses  Wood is used for house building, furniture, ships, boats etc. The leaves are used as green manure (FRI, 1984; Chacko et al., 2002). Leaves and fruits contain tannin (Bose et al., 1998)
Wood properties  The sapwood is greyish or pinkish white and the heartwood is light reddish brown to walnut brown. It is moderately hard and moderately heavy wood with straight to interlocked grain and medium coarse texture. Weight 673 kg/m3. Annual rings fairly distinct. Pores small to large, often subdivided and in patches or singly, joined by narrow, irregular, transverse, wavy bands of soft texture. Medullary rays very fine, very numerous, bent round small pores and either bend round or ending in the larger ones. Pores conspicuous on a longitudinal section (Gamble, 1922)
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