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  Pterygota alata (Roxb.) R. Br.
Vernacular name  Anathondi, Pothondi (Malayalam), (Sasidharan, 2004). Aneithondi, Kodaittondi (Bose et al., 1998 ) (Tamil), Talbe-mara (Kannada), Narikel (Hindi) (Chacko et al., 2002), Tula (Bengali).
Common name  The Buddha's coconut tree (Chacko et al., 2002 and Bose et al., 1998).
Synonyms  Stercuila alata Roxb. (Sasidharan, 2004; Chacko et al., 2002; Bose et al., 1998). Sterculia haynii Bedd.
Family  Sterculiaceae.
Distribution  Common in the forests of West Bengal, Assam, and Andamans. Usually, it grows sporadically in moist localities. Cultivated as ornamental and avenue tree (FRI, 1981). In Kerala, it is found in semi evergreen forests (Chacko et al., 2002). The tree is found in the Andamans, Sikkim, Assam and Western Peninsula in India; Bangladesh; Myanmar and Malaysia (Bose et al., 1998). It is found sporadically in moist situations in tropical evergreen forests in Sikkim, Assam, Westrern Ghats (South of North Kanara), Andamans.
Description  A slow growing, very large evergreen tree with a straight cylindrical bole reaching up to 40 m height and 95 cm breast height diameter and often buttressed (Bose et al., 1998; FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002).
Flowering season  January to February (Bourdillon, 1908); February to March.
Fruiting season  February to April (Sen Gupta, 1937; Chacko et al., 2002). Ripens in the cold season, November to December (Bourdillon,1908)..
Flowers  Flowers are polygamous in short rusty tomentose racemes, staminal column cylindrical, bearing 5 phalages of 5 anthers and ovary is sessile. Flowers in short axillary cymes, purplish or rusty brown outside, red veins within, with unpleasant smell; calyx campanulate, deeply 5 lobed, densely tomentose, about 2 cm long; 5 anthers in male flowers (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruits  Fruits subglobose, woody follicle, pubescent, 10-12 cm in diameter; seeds many, oblong, about 5 cm long, with a spathulate wing. Follicles are as large as man's fist or larger, obliquely globose, shortly beaked, on stout stalks of 5 to 7.5 cm long, woody, minutely brown felted out side and corky within. About 40 seeds in two rows are tightly packed in a follicle (FRI, 1981; Chacko, 2002; Bourdillon, 1908; Bose et al., 1998).
Fruit type  Follicle.
Seeds  Winged, 6.25 cm long, some 20-30 being packed closely in each follicle.
Seed length  2.5 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed width 
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  1,060 - 1,660 seeds/kg (FRI,1981; Chacko et al.,2002).
Seed dispersal 
Seed Collection  Fruits are collected from the trees before they shed the seeds. As the trees are very tall, seed collection is often difficult. Hence, fruits are collected by lopping off the branches (FRI, 1981). Seeds are also collected from the floor, under the mother trees, but care should be taken to collect only fresh and fertile seeds (Chacko et al., 2002).
Transportation of seeds  Fruits collected in cotton / plastic / polythene bags are transported quickly to the processing centre (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed processing  The fruits are dried in the sun and seeds are extracted by hand. The seeds are dried again in the sun for a few days (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed storage  Intermediate / Orthodox (CABI, 1998). Seeds can be stored for a couple of months in a dry, well-ventilated shed. Care should be taken to protect them against damage by rats and ants (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002).
Viability period  A few months (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed emptiness  No information (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed pre treatment  Not required (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination type  No information (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination percentage  Up to 90 (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination period  14 to 90 days (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002).
Nursery technique  Seeds are directly sown in polythene bags filled with soil based potting mixture and maintained under irrigation. Seedlings become plantable in about 4 to 5 months (Chacko et al., 2002).
Method of propagation  By seeds.
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  No information (Chacko et al., 2002).
Diseases  No information (Chacko et al., 2002).
Medicinal properties 
Uses  This is a popular tree in tropical gardens. Wood is used for light packing cases and in the veneer and plywood industries. It is a good avenue tree (FRI,1981; Chacko et al., 2002).
Wood properties  The heartwood is not distinct from the sapwood in colour, the wood is greyish or pale yellowish white, moderately hard and moderately heavy with straight grain and coarse texture. The air dry weight approximately is 590 kg/m3. Wood white, soft, but harder than that of other species of the genus.
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