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  Phyllanthus emblica L.
Vernacular name  Nellimaram, Nelli (Malayalam), Nelli (Tamil), Nelli (Kannada), Amla, Amlika (Hindi) (Chacko et al., 2002).
Common name  Indian Gooseberry (Chacko et al., 2002), Malacca tree.
Synonyms  Emblica officinalis Gaertn., Cicca emblica (L.) Kurz, (Sasidharan, 2004; Chacko et al.,2002). Dichelastina nodicaulis Hance.
Family  Euphorbiaceae
Distribution  Common in deciduous forests in most parts of India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and China. Cultivated widely in gardens and homesteads for its fruits (Luna, 1996). It is grown in marginal soils and various kinds of degraded lands such as salt affected soils, ravines and dry and semi dry regions (Singh, 1998). In Kerala mostly found in deciduous forests (Chacko et al., 2002).
Description  Moderately fast growing, medium sized deciduous tree reaching up to a height of 25 m and a breast height diameter of 80 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Flowering season  March to May (Troup, 1921).
Fruiting season  October to April (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Sen Gupta, 1937; Chacko et al., 2002). November to February (Troup, 1921).
Flowers  Minute yellowish, densely, fascicled in the axils of young leaves.
Fruits  Fruit is a berry, 3-celled globose, fleshy, almost sessile, 2-3 cm diameter, greenish yellow, firm and bitter (Chacko et al., 2002). Smooth, fleshy and very astringent with a 6 ridged bony endocarp.
Fruit type  Berry.
Seeds  Seeds 6, reniform, trigonius, shiny and reddish brown (Troup, 1921; Kumar and Banja 1992; Luna, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002). Seeds with chestnut brown colour have values for recovery (60%), 100-seed weight (2.188 g), germination percentage (70.63%), seedling length (12.6 cm) and vigour index (1064). Seed coat colour can be used as a parameter to assess the seed quality of E. officinalis (Karivarhadaraaju et al., 2001).
Seed length  0.5 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed width 
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  65,000 seeds/kg (Kumar and Bhanja 1992) to 1,23,500 seeds/kg (Sen Gupta, 1937; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed dispersal  Animals
Seed Collection  The fruits are either collected from the tree by shaking the branches manually or from the ground (Chacko et al., 2002). Seeds extracted from ripe fruits collected in Tamil Nadu, were dried and divided into sinkers or floaters using water flotation (Murugesh et al., 1998). Fruits collected from the posterior end of the branch is superior in seed and seedling quality characters in terms of germination, root length, shoot length, dry matter production, vigour index, per cent seed filling and 100 seed weight (Malarkodi et al., 2001) .
Transportation of seeds  Fruits are collected in cotton/plastic bags. No special care is needed during transport (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed processing  Ripe fruits are dried in the sun until the hard putamen dehisces with a cracking sound to release the seeds (Troup, 1921, Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed storage  Seeds are orthodox in nature and could be stored well at 5oC until 24 months with 61% germination by packing them in 700 gauge polyethylene bag (Srimathi et al., 1999). Seedlings from large seeds have greater survival than those from smaller seeds under intense water stress (Ekta Khurana and Singh, 2004; Dent, 1948, Kumar and Bhanja, 1992).
Viability period  Seeds do not keep viability for long (Dent, 1948, Kumar and Bhanja, 1992) and fail to germinate after a year (Troup, 1921; Chacko et al., 2002). Seed is viable for about two months under ambient temperatures (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed emptiness  Low (Chacko et al.,2002).
Seed pre treatment  No pretreatment is necessary (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992). However soaking the seeds in water for about 12 hrs before sowing improve germination (Singh, 1998; Chacko et al., 2002). Seeds are soaked in Gibberellic Acid 500 ppm solution for 24 hrs. Fresh seeds treated with 0.5% KNO3 and one-year-old seeds treated with 200 ppm GA3 for 8 h give germination percentage of 69.33 and 46.00%, respectively. Seeds treated with 250 ppm GA3 have 75.98% germination in the laboratory. Seeds of Emblica officinalis soaked with 400 ppm GA3 give 87.25% germination. Seeds soaked for 12 h in 400 ppm gibberellic acid give 87.25% germination, and those soaked in water give 56% (Dhankhar et al., 1997; Dhankhar, Santosh Kumar 1996; Rajamanickam et al., 2002; Wagh et al., 1998; Pawshe et al., 1997). Hot water soaking at 60oC for 5 minutes was found to be beneficial (Pawshe et al., 1997). Seeds treated with 1% KNO3 for 18 h give seed germination of 93.33% (Purbey and Meghwal, 2005).
Germination type  Epigeal (Chacko et al.,2002).
Germination percentage  40 (Luna, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002). 78% germination (Srimathi and Sujatha, 2007). Seeds soaked for 12 h in 400 ppm gibberellic acid give 87.25% germination, and those soaked in water give 56% (Wagh et al., 1998).
Germination period  24 to 50 days (Chacko et al., 2002).
Nursery technique  Pre-treated or pre-germinated seeds are sown in polythene bags filled with potting mixture (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992) or in open beds provided with overhead shade (Troup, 1921) during March. Germination takes place in 24 to 27 days. The plants become ready for planting in four to five months (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Chacko et al., 2002). Seeds are soaked in Gibberllic Acid 500 ppm solution for 24 hrs. Seeds sown in the middle of July have higher germination and seedling survival compared to those sown on other dates. Percentage budding success and growth of buds are maximum when budding is on the last week of June (Srivastava et al., 2002). The percentage of seedling survival is maximum in seeds sown in July, followed by those sown in August and June (Singh et al., 2002). Spraying of seedling rootstocks raised in polyethylene bags once or twice (with the second spray applied one month after the first spray) with GA3 (100 ppm) increase plant height and diameter and length of the primary and tap root. Application of GA3 at 50 ppm + urea at 0.5% also significantly increase various vegetative and root growth characteristics. Second spray further increase the effectiveness (Virendra Singh and Shafaat Mohammed, 1996). Treating seeds with 200 ppm GA3 have effect on shoot elongation irrespective of age of seeds. Treating fresh seeds with 0.5% KNO3 have a positive influence on dry matter production and also give good vigour index (Rajamanickam et al., 2004). Treatment with 750 ppm thiourea give good root development (Dhankhar et al., 1997; Dhankhar, and Santosh Kumar 1996). Seedling development in terms of plant height, number of leaves/plant and root development is also good with 400 ppm GA3 (Wagh et al., 1998). Fresh seeds treated with Azospirillum+Phosphobacteria+0.5% KNO3 for 8 h give germination percentage of 52.08, and one-year-old seeds treated with Azospirillum+Phosphobacteria+200 ppm GA3 for 8 h give 49.17% germination (Rajamanickam and Anbu, 2001). The application of AM fungi and PSB (phosphate-solubilizing bacteria) in combination produce maximum plant height, maximum diameter of seedlings. The application of AM fungi along with companion fungus or Azospirillum and companion fungus boost the growth of Aonla in nursery (Verma et al., 2008).
Method of propagation  The natural regeneration is satisfactory. Natural reproduction of this species is by seeds and it also coppices through root suckers. Budding, ring grafting and shoot cutting are also effective. Girth of rootstock matrix should be more than 0.50 cm duri
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  Low (Chacko et al.,2002).
Diseases  Low (Chacko et al.,2002). Stored fruits of E. officinalis are associated with Aspergillus spp. (Nisha Misra, 1988). Fusarium acuminatum [Gibberella acuminata], Fusarium moniliforme [G. fujikuroi] var. subglutinans, F. equiseti and Alternaria alternata (Geeta Sumbali and Kusum Badyal, 1990).
Medicinal properties  The fruits are edible and used in diarrhoea, dysentry, anaemia. The leaves and root bark are medicinal. In Ayurveda, Chyawanprash is prepared by incorporating around 50 herbs including Amla (Emblica officinalis [Phyllanthus emblica]), the richest source of vitamin C (Milind Parle and Nitin Bansal, 2006). Ayurvedic formulations derived from Emblica officinalis is used in the prevention and the treatment of the respiratory tract ailments related to flu (Badmaev and Majeed, 2004). Aqueous fruit extracts of Emblica officinalis [Phyllanthus emblica] and chyavanaprash, a non-toxic herbal preparation with 50% E. officinalis, has antitumour activity due to its interaction with cell cycle regulation (Jose et al., 1997). The fruit has antibacterial activity also (Sabita Pal et al., 2002).
Uses  Its fruit is very rich in vitamin C and rich in pectin, therefore regarded as very important for medicinal value for ayurvedic. Its wood is used for agricultural implements and well construction. Emblica officinalis is one of the most important plants of Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicine. In this ancient medicine, the fruit of Emblica officinalis is processed according to a method named "Svaras Bhavana", whereby the therapeutic potential of the plant is enhanced by treating the main herb with its own juice. Emblica fruit contains ascorbic acid (0.40%, w/w), and that the Ayurvedic method of processing increases the healthy characteristics of the fruit and has a higher antioxidant activity content of ascorbic acid (1.28%, w/w). Vitamin C accounts for approximately 45-70% of the antioxidant activity (Scartezzini et al., 2006). Water floatation technique can be used for removal of empty and infertile seeds in amla (Srimathi and Sujatha, 2007). Malus baccata fruits are substituted for Emblica officinalis [Phyllanthus emblica] fruits (Aseeva, 2005).
Wood properties  Wood is red, hard and close grained, warps and splits occur in seasoning. There is no heartwood; annual rings are not distinct (Gamble, 1922).
References  Get ...
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