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 dubia Cav.
Vernacular name  Malavepu (Malayalam); (Sasidharan, 2004); Malai-vembu (Tamil); Mahanim (Hindi) (Chacko et al., 2002)
Common name  Malabar Neem Wood
Synonyms  Melia composita Willd. (Sasidharan, 2004); M. robusta Roxb., M. superba Roxb. (Chacko et al., 2002)
Family  Meliaceae
Subfamily 
Origin 
Distribution  E. Himalayas (up to 1800 m) in N. Bengal, the Khasi, Indian peninsula, W. ghats in deciduous hill forests. Also in Sikkim and Bhutan. In Kerala, it occur in the moist deciduous forests up to 600 m.
Description  A fairly, large, handsome, deciduous tree(1.2-1.5 m) with a spreading crown (Bose et al., 1998)
Flowering season  February to March; January to March (Bose et al., 1998). July to October; January to March (Bourdillon, 1908)
Fruiting season  Cold season, October to February. October to November, October to January (Bourdillon 1908). October to February (Chacko et al., 2002)
Flowers  Greenish-white 0.6-1cm long, fragrant, in 12-18 cm long paniculate cymes; calyx lobes 5, ovate; petals mealy, many flowered (Bose et al., 1998)
Fruits  Drupes 2 cm or more long, ovoid or ellipsoid, yellowish, smooth, with very hard endocarp and one seed
Fruit type  Drupe
Seeds  1 to 6 seeded, black coloured (Bose et al., 1998)
Seed length  1 cm (Chacko et al., 2002)
Seed width 
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  250 to 300 seeds/kg, 250 to 320 fruits/kg (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002)
Seed dispersal 
Seed Collection  Ripe fruits are collected from the ground, as plenty of mature ripe fruits are available on the ground during fruiting season (Chacko et al., 2002)
Transportation of seeds  The fruits may be transported to the processing centre at the earliest (Chacko et al., 2002)
Seed processing  The fruits collected in gunny bags are beaten with a wooden mallet or pounded in a wooden mortar to remove the pulp (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002)
Seed storage  Probably intermediate. Depulped and dried seeds dressed with insecticides can be stored for about six months (Chacko et al., 2002)
Viability period  Seeds are viable for about six months (Chacko et al., 2002)
Seed emptiness  Low (Chacko et al., 2002)
Seed pre treatment  Seeds are buried in FYM pit for ten days sown in mother bed. Splitting the hard endocarp longitudinally into two halves with a sharp nut cutter, soaking the seeds in cold water for a week and soaking in slaked lime for 48 hrs significantly improves germination (Vivekanandan, 1978)
Germination type  Epigeal (Chacko et al., 2002)
Germination percentage  Usually very low (Chacko et al., 2002)
Germination period  48 days (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002)
Nursery technique  The fruits after depulping are spread out in the seedbed, covered with a 7.5 cm layer of leaf litter and burnt. Immediately after the burn, the seeds are covered with a 7.5 to 10 cm layer of soil and watered frequently. Seedlings that are 20 to 30 cm in height are suitable for planting out at the commencement of the southwest or northeast monsoon (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002)
Method of propagation  By seeds. The cuttings are treated with rootone (Howard et al., 1990)
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  Low (Chacko et al., 2002)
Diseases  Aspergillus spp., Penicillium spp., Chaetomium globosum and Trichoderma spp. are the important storage moulds. Bipolaris maydis, Botryodiplodia theobromae, Fusarium sp., Colletotrichum sp., Myrothecium sp., etc. are the important field fungi associated with seed discolouration and seed rot (Mohanan and Geetha Varma, 2001; Chacko et al., 2002)
Medicinal properties  The fruit is bitter and is considered as anthelmintic (Bose et al., 1998). The wood is rarely subjected to antiseptic treatment
Uses  Used for making light packing cases, cigar boxes, ceiling planks, etc. match industry, plywood and as fuel. The wood is used for agricultural implements, furniture, plywood, boxes, poles, tool handles, cabinet making and in construction.
Wood properties  Sapwood greyish-white, with a yellow, heartwood light pink-light red which turns to pale brown, lustrous and no characteristic odour and taste. Very light, striaght- grained, coarse and uneven textured. Pores even and medium sized to large, fewer in the autumn-wood, more numerous in the spring wood. Rays very fine, giving a silvery grain to the wood. Annual rings 3 or 4 to the inch (Bourdillon, 1908). Pores large, generally round, visible on a vertical section. The structure resembles that of Toon, but all the pores are of the same size and the wood is softer. The annual rings are marked by more numerous, but not larger pores (Gamble, 1922)
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