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  Aegle marmelos (L.) Correa
Vernacular name  Koovalam, Vilvam (Malayalam); Vilvam, Mavilangai bilva (Tamil) Bela (Hindi) (Chacko et al.,2002).
Common name  Bael tree, Bengal tree, wood apple, Golden apple (Chacko et al.,2002).
Synonyms  Crataeva marmelosL. (Chacko et al., 2002). Crataeva religiosa Ainslie, Feronia pellucida Roth
Family  Rutaceae
Origin  Indian subcontinent.
Distribution  Bael tree is indigenous to Indian subcontinent and mostly found in the tropical and subtropical regions. The tree is also found in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
Description  A small to moderate sized slender, aromatic, deciduous tree 6.0-7.5 m in height and 90-120 cm in girth, with somewhat fluted bole of 3.0-4.5 m. Branches armed with straight, sharp, axillary, 2.5 cm long spines (CSIR, 1948).
Flowering season  Summer season from May to July.
Fruiting season  Fruits attain full size in December; ripens during April to June; March to May and also in October to November (Sen Gupta, 1937; Khullar et al., 1991; Chacko et al., 2002).
Flowers  Flowers are fragrant, greenish white, contains honey, sweet scented in short axillary panicles (CSIR, 1948).
Fruits  Fruit 5 to 15 cm in diameter, globose, smooth, green, grey or yellowish; rind hard, woody, pulp is sweet and aromatic.
Fruit type  Berry.
Seeds  Numerous, oblong, compressed with a woody mucus testa embedded in a clean mucilage and mass of yellow or orange coloured sweet aromatic meaty pulp.
Seed length  0.75 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed width  0.60 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed thickness  0.42 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed weight  5,300 seeds/kg; 4,800 to 7,200 seeds/kg (Khullar et al., 1991; Kindt et al., 1997; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed dispersal  Ants and bees.
Seed Collection  The seeds are obtained from the ripe fruits collected from trees (Chacko et al.,2002).
Transportation of seeds  The fruits collected in gunny/ plastic bags are transported. No special care is needed (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed processing  Break open the fruits and the seeds are washed to remove the mucilage and dried for a few days in the sun (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed storage  Recalcitrant (CABI, 1998). The seeds cannot stand storage for long. Therefore, they should be sown as soon after collection, as possible (Chacko et al., 2002).
Viability period  Seed is viable for short period under ambient room temperatures (Chacko et al.,2002).
Seed emptiness  Low (Chacko et al.,2002).
Seed pre treatment  Wash the seed to remove the mucilage and then dry for a few days in the sun; they may be coated with red lead, if necessary, to keep off ants.
Germination type  Hypogeous (Chacko et al.,2002).
Germination percentage  56 to 90 (Khullar et al., 1991; Chacko et al.,2002).
Germination period  21 days (Khullar et al., 1991). 10 to 25 days (Chacko et al.,2002).
Nursery technique  Fresh seeds are sown in plastic trays filled with vermiculite. Watering should be done regularly twice a day. The seedlings are pricked out into polythene bags of 20 x 10 cm size filled with potting mixture. The seedlings will be ready for planting in the next season as the growth of seedlings is slow (Chacko et al., 2002).
Method of propagation  Generally by seed, root cutting and air-layering.
Vegetative propagation  It can be propagated vegetatively through ring grafting. This technique is an improvement over bud grafting where instead of a bud patch being removed and inserted, a bud with a ring of bark is freshly cut and removed without damaging the cambium. For this, root stock should be selected from 12 to 18 months old seedlings having 60 to 75 cm height and 0.75 cm thickness. Auxillary bud is selected from the plus tree clone after the leaf fall and when the bud initiation has started usually during the month of February and March. This can also be induced manually by removing the leaves after which bud initiation takes place. The scion branch is removed when the bud initiation has started. A circular cut is made 0.5 cm above and 0.5 cm below the bud and a cross-cut is made behind the bud. A ring of bark along the bud is slowly removed without damaging it. On the root stock a similar ring is made and the ring with the bud of scion is placed there. Polythene strip is tied around the ring leaving the bud exposed. In about 30 to 45 days after grafting the bud develops into a shoot indicating a fusion with the root stock. Care should be taken while watering to prevent water fallling on the bud as it may cause rotting. Fifteen days after grafting, the top portion of the stock (leaving 3 cm above the grafted portion) is cut off to facilitate early union (Rai, 1999; Chacko et al., 2002).
Pests  Nil (Chacko et al., 2002).
Diseases  Low (Chacko et al.,2002).
Medicinal properties  Unripe fruits are astringent, digestive in ayurvedic system. The fruits are good remedy for diarrhoea and dysentery. The fruit is nutritive and contains fair amount of Vitamin A, B, C, minerals and high amount of carbohydrates. The root is one of the ingredients of the Dasamool of Ayurveda. The fruit, the root, bark, leaf and seed of bael are valued in the indigenous system of medicine. The fruit is used in chronic diarrhoea and dysentery, and is said to act as a tonic for heart and brain. The root as well as the bark is used in the form of a decoction as a remedy for melancholia, intermittent fevers and palpitation of the heart. In pharmacological trials, as in the case of fruits, the roots have exhibited anti-Amoebic and Hypoglycaemic properties (CSIR, 1948).
Uses  A yellow edible dye is obtained from the unripe fruit. The seed oil possesses antibacterial properties. It is extensively planted near Hindu temples for its leaves and wood which are used for worship. The young leaves and shoots are used as a fodder. The timber is commonly used for making pestles of oil and sugar mills, for posts, shafts, axles and naves of carts, tool handles, helves, and agricultural implements. It is also used for making pulp for manufacture of wrapping paper. It is prized for sacrificial and religious fires (CSIR, 1948). The seed oil content of A. marmelos is much higher (40.25) than that of the other species (1.0-7.1%) (Ahmad et al., 1998).
Wood properties  The wood is light yellow, strongly aromatic when first exposed, later fading to yellowish grey or greyish white. It is a very hard and very heavy wood with usually straight grain and fine texture and without any distinct heartwood. The wood is lustrous with a smooth feel, without characteristic taste, heavy, hard, straight-grained or occasionally curly-grained in the radial plain, even and fine-textured (CSIR, 1948). Pores are small, ringed, in small groups of 2 or 3 together, sometimes, but not always, more numerous in the autumn wood. Medullary rays wavy, fine, short, white, numerous, uniform and equidistant. Annual rings marked by distinct lines, and often by a continuous belt of pores (Gamble, 1922).
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