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  Sapindus trifoliata Linn.
Vernacular name  Chuvappu kaimaram, Chavakkai, Urunci, Pasakotta (Malayalam) (Sasidharan, 2004), Ritha (Marathi), Pungam Kottei, Nithavanji, Pevam kottai (Tamil) Ritha (Hindi) (Bose et al., 1998).
Common name  Soap nut tree of South India (Bose et al., 1998).
Synonyms  Sapindus laurifolia Vahl (Sasidharan, 2004).
Family  Sapindaceae
Distribution  In the S. India common in the open forests of low elevation. Found in the evergreen forests of the W. Ghats. In Kerala, it occurs in Wyanad, Calicut, Malappuram, Palghat, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Idukki, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Trivandrum districts.
Description  A large, deciduous tree with spreading branches and dense crown, attaining a height up to 20 m (Bose et al., 1998; Bourdillon, 1908).
Flowering season  October to December(Bose et al., 1998). December to April. November to December (Bourdillon, 1908).
Fruiting season  Ripen from February - April. Fruits ripen in hot months (Bose et al., 1998). March, April and May (Bourdillon, 1908).
Flowers  Flowers are pale white or greenish, yellow in rusty pubescent terminal panicles with numerous male flowers and a few bisexual ones. Flowers small, white, male or bisexual, on rusty-pubescent terminal paniculate cymes; sepals 4 or 5; petals 4 or 5, with tufts of white hairs; disk concave; ovary 3-lobed, ferrugineous- tomentose (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruits  Consisting of 2/3 indehiscent carpels 1.25-1.88 cm long, with a saponaceous flesh. Fruits are usually 3 or 2 fleshy, rounded berries, partially joined, covered with reddish hairs when young, hairless when ripe (Bose et al., 1998). Fruit 2-3 lobed, fleshy, fulvous-hairy when young, glabrous and wrinkled when mature.
Fruit type  Berry.
Seeds  Seeds, one hard, black (Bose et al., 1998). Seeds are black, one in each lobe of the fruit, hard and smooth (Purkayastha, 1996).
Seed length 
Seed width 
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  2,000 - 25,000 seeds/kg (Purkayastha, 1996).
Seed dispersal 
Seed Collection 
Transportation of seeds 
Seed processing 
Seed storage 
Viability period 
Seed emptiness 
Seed pre treatment  The seeds should be soaked in water or in cow dung slurry for 24 hrs. Sowing of seeds with or with out pericarp.
Germination type 
Germination percentage 
Germination period 
Nursery technique 
Method of propagation  By seeds, root suckers.
Vegetative propagation 
Medicinal properties  The pericarp of the fruit is used as a hair wash. Root and bark is used for medicinal purpose. The roots are good for hemicrania, hysteria, and epilepsy. The fruits are acrid, bitter, astringent, and tonic; are good for asthma, diarrhoea, cholera, verminosis and gastralgia due to dyspepsia. The fruit is applied externally as a remedy for bites of poisonous insects and even snake-bite. Remedy of scorpion sting suggested by inhaling the smoke from burning fruits (Bose et al., 1998).
Uses  Fruits are widely used as a detergent. Soap nut is also used by jewellers to restore brightness to tarnished ornaments. The seeds yield oil and it is used for soap industry. Seed shell yields a dye used to colour cloth, leather and wood.
Wood properties  The wood is yellowish white to pale brown without any distinct heartwood. It is a very hard and very heavy wood (Air dry weight about 950 kg/m3) with straight to wavy grain and medium texture. The pores are scanty and moderate sized, and the rays are very fine and numerous (Bourdillon, 1908; Purkayastha, 1996).
References  Get ...
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