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  Melia azedarach L.
Vernacular name  Vayambu, Sima veppu, Karim vembu (Malayalam); Mallay vembu, Puvembu (Tamil); Hutchubevu (Kannada); Bakain (Hindi) (Chacko et al., 2002). Drek (Hindi)
Common name  Persian lilac (Chacko et al., 2002). China berry, Pride of India, Bead tree, Hoop tree
Synonyms  Melia sempervirens (L) Sw.; Melia bukayun Royle; Melia Japonica G.Don (Chacko et al., 2002)
Family  Meliaceae
Subfamily 
Origin 
Distribution  Native to west Asia and is found growing in Himalayas (Chacko et al., 2002). The species is supposed to be indigenous in Baluchistan but it is now found in tropical and mild subtropical parts of India and in many countries (Bose et al., 1998)
Description  Small to medium sized handsome deciduous tree attaining a height of 20 m and a breast height diameter of 60 cm (CABI, 2000; Chacko et al., 2002)
Flowering season  February to March / May
Fruiting season  April to May (Luna, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002)
Flowers  Flowers are numerous and have lavender colour and emits mild scent during night. Bisexual, lilac or purple and bluish white, scented, 6-8 mm in diameter, in axillary paniculate cymes; petals 5 or 6, white or lilac surrounding deep purple tube formed by the stamens (Bose et al., 1998)
Fruits  Fruit is a drupe, ellipsoid or globose, shining, oval,1.5-20 cm long, green, turning greenish yellow and finally brown when ripe, in clusters (Bose et al., 1998)
Fruit type  Drupe
Seeds  Seeds 4, yellow when ripe, globose has a natural perforation in the centre (Luna, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002)
Seed length  1.04 cm (Chacko et al., 2002)
Seed width  0.77 cm (Chacko et al., 2002)
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  3,679 seeds/kg (Chacko et al., 2002)
Seed dispersal  By wind
Seed Collection  The mature fruits are collected from the tree by lopping off the branches (Chacko et al., 2002)
Transportation of seeds  The fruits collected in cotton / gunny bags are transported to the processing centre as quickly as possible (Chacko et al., 2002)
Seed processing  Fruits are depulped by soaking in cold water for 48 hrs and are separated by squeezing with hand (Chacko et al., 2002)
Seed storage  Intermediate / recalcitrant (CABI, 1998). Seeds are stored in sealed tins for more than one year (Dent, 1948; Chacko et al., 2002). Storage of fruits or endocarps can be done at low temperatures (3oC) (Moncur and Gunn, 1990)
Viability period  The depulped fruits are dried and stored well for about four months (Chacko et al., 2002)
Seed emptiness  No information (Chacko et al., 2002)
Seed pre treatment  Seeds are treated with H2SO4 for 30 min (Sheikh, 1980). Soaking of the seeds in cold water for above 48 hrs improve germination (Kindt et al., 1997; Chacko et al., 2002; Edwards and Naithani, 1999)
Germination type  Epigeal (Chacko et al., 2002)
Germination percentage  55 to 85 (Chacko et al., 2002)
Germination period  10 to 20 days (Chacko et al., 2002)
Nursery technique  The pretreated seeds are sown in germination trays filled with vermiculite and watered regularly. When the seedlings are about 4 to 5 cm height, they are transplanted to poly bags of size 20 cm x 10 cm filled with potting mixture and maintained under shade till they establish (Chacko et al., 2002)
Method of propagation  By seeds and vegetative methods
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  No information (Chacko et al., 2002)
Diseases  Low (Chacko et al., 2002)
Medicinal properties  Leaves, fruits and seeds are useful in skin diseases as well as in rheumatic pains. The seeds contain oil that is used for soap and hair oil, prescribed in rheumatism, leprosy. The bark is bitter. The glycoside from the seeds show antibacterial activity (Srivastava, 1986)
Uses  Wood is extensively used for toys, small boxes, cigar boxes, museum cases, turnery, ornamental plywood, and musical instrument. The stony seeds are employed in making necklaces and rosaries. Root bark of M. azedarach posses, azedarachin C having antifeedant properties against Spodoptera exigua larvae (Huang et al., 1995; Saxena, 1987)
Wood properties  Sapwood is yellowish white and the heartwood is reddish brown. It is a moderately hard and moderately heavy wood (Air dry weight about 700 kg/m3) with coarse texture and straight grain. The sapwood grey, heartwood red. Annual rings doubtful. Pores scanty, moderate sized or large. Rays fine, numerous, white and prominent. The wood is scented and much resembles mahogany (Bourdillon, 1908)
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