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  Semecarpus anacardium L.f.
Vernacular name  Cherkkuru, Thenkotta, Alakkucheru (Malayalam) (Sasidharan, 2004). Thembarai, Shenkottai (Tamil) Bhilawa, Bhela (Hindi) (Bose et al., 1998) (Chacko et al., 2002).
Common name  Oriental cashew, (Bose et al., 1998). Marking nut tree, Varnish tree, Dhobi nut, (Chacko et al.,2002)
Synonyms  Anacardium latifolium Lamk., A. officinarum Gaertn.
Family  Anacardiaceae
Distribution  Sub Himalayan tract from the Bias Eastwards-Assam, Meghalaya, and Central India, Western Peninsula and extending to Bangladesh; North Australia; Malaysia (Bose et al., 1998). It is fairly common in Sal forests (FRI, 1981). In Kerala, it occurs in the moist and dry deciduous forests (Chacko et al., 2002).
Description  Moderate sized deciduous tree, 20 m high and breast height diameter of 67 cm (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002).
Flowering season  May to August (Bose et al., 1998). June to July (Bourdillon, 1908).
Fruiting season  April to May (Chacko et al.,2002). November (Bourdillon, 1908).
Flowers  Flowers greenish yellow, subsessile, 6-8 mm across, fascicled in compressed erect terminal, panicles; sepals small, pilose on the outer surface; petals broad ovate, acute; in male flowers stamens inserted at the base of disc; ovary rudimentary, hairy; in female flowers stamens imperfect; ovary sub globose, densely pilose, 2-celled (Bose et al., 1998). Pollinators include bees (most commonly Apis florea and Ceratina similima(84%), wasps (14%) and butterflies (2%) (Solomon Raju et al., 1999).
Fruits  A compressed, oblong drupe about 3 cm long, obliquely ovoid or oblong, smooth, shining, purplish black when ripe, seated on a fleshy, orange receptacle or hypocarp; pericarp full of acrid resinous juice (Bose et al., 1998; FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002).
Fruit type  Drupe.
Seeds  Black drupaceous fruit is referred to as seed (FRI,1981; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed length  2.5-3.8 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed width 
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  460 to 880 (FRI, 1991; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed dispersal 
Seed Collection  The fruits are collected from the tree or from the ground (Chacko et al., 2002).
Transportation of seeds  Drupes are collected in cotton/ plastic/ polythene bags and transported to the processing centre as quickly as possible (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed processing 
Seed storage  Orthodox (CABI, 1998; Chacko et al., 2002).
Viability period  Seeds are viable for about few months under ambient room temperature (Sen Gupta, 1937; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed emptiness  No information (Chacko et al.,2002).
Seed pre treatment  The seeds are soaked in cold water for 48 hrs. Acid scarification in 50% sulphuric acid for 5 and 10 min increase the percentage germination and reduce mean germination time (Subodh Airi et al., 1998).
Germination type  Epigeal (Chacko et al.,2002).
Germination percentage  Up to 21 (Sen Gupta, 1937; Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination period  27 to 53 days (Sen Gupta, 1937; Chacko et al., 2002).
Nursery technique  Seeds are sown with the stalk end upwards and in slanting position in polythene bags of 22.5x17.5 cm size filled with potting mixture and watered (Rai, 1999). Seedlings do not stand transplanting well (FRI, 1981) and hence direct sowing is preferred (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  The gum, ripe fruits and its oil are medicinal. The fruits are bitter, acrid and digestive carminative. They are useful in cancer, cough, asthma and ulcers. The tree exudes a gum-resin used in leprosy and nervous debility (Bose et al., 1998). It is used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory disorders (Selvam and Jachak, 2004).
Uses  The fruit, wall is rich in black, oily, bitter and highly resicant juice which produces blisters on the skin and is used traditionally for marking ink with lime as a mordant; also is used in varnish. Fleshy receptacle is often roasted and eaten. The oil is used also as a preservative against white ants and as a lubricant for wooden axles of carts (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002). Wood is suitable for packing cases (Rai, 1999; Chacko et al., 2002; Bose et al., 1998).
Wood properties  The wood is greyish white when fresh, turning pale greyish brown with age, without any distinct heartwood. It is a soft to moderately hard and moderately heavy wood. Pores are evenly distributed, well marked on a longitudinal section, of medium size, scanty. Rays numerous, rather fine and close (Bourdillon, 1908).
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