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  Strychnos nux-vomica Linn.
Vernacular name  Kanjiram (Malayalam) (Sasidharan, 2004), Yetti, Eddi, Kanchurai (Tamil), Kanjira (Kannada), Bailewa, Chibbinge (Chacko et al., 2002), Kuchla, (Hindi) (Bose et al., 1998).
Common name  Strychnine tree, Poison nut (Bose et al., 1998), Nux-vomica, Snake wood tree, Crow-fig (Chacko et al., 2002).
Family  Loganiaceae
Distribution  Indigenous to India but growing in China and Australia. It is also distributed in Myanmar and Sri Lanka (Bose et al., 1998). Occurs throughout India. In Kerala, it grows in the moist and dry deciduous forests up to 300 m (Chacko et al., 2002).
Description  A moderate sized or large handsome evergreen or deciduous tree up to 25 m high; and a breast height diameter of 108 cm, trunk short and thick (Chacko et al., 2002; Bose et al., 1998; Bourdillon, 1908).
Flowering season  March-May (Bourdillon, 1908), February to April (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruiting season  Ripen in cold and hot season from December to June, November to March (Bourdillon, 1908). December to June (Sen Gupta, 1937; Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Chacko et al., 2002).
Flowers  Small greenish white, fragrant, about 1.2 cm long, strongly scented in terminal pedunculate compound cymes; calyx lobes acute; petals 5, joined for most of their length to form a slender tube; stamens included; style projects beyond the mouth of corolla (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruits  Berry globose, large, shining, up to 6 cm across about the size and colour of a small orange, with a rather hard coriaceous pericarp and a bitter white pulp (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruit type  Berry.
Seeds  Seeds are poisonous, discoid, compressed, ash grey, with concave and convex sides covered with very fine and pressed silky hairs (FRI, 1985; Chacko et al., 2002; Bose et al., 1998).
Seed length 
Seed width  2 cm (FRI, 1985).
Seed thickness  2.5 mm (FRI, 1985).
Seed weight  600 to 846 seeds/kg (FRI, 1985; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed dispersal 
Seed Collection  Fruits are collected from the tree by shaking the branches or from the ground (Chacko et al., 2002).
Transportation of seeds  Fruits are transported in jute/ polythene bags. It is better to avoid the cotton bags as the fruit is pulpy and gummy (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed processing  The pulp of the fruit is washed or rotted off and the seeds are sun - dried on mats. The seeds are then sorted; the floaters rejected (FRI, 1985; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed storage  Orthodox. Seeds are stored in gunny bags for one year or even longer periods (Dent, 1948; Chacko et al., 2002).
Viability period  Seeds retain viability up to one year in gunny bags (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed emptiness  Low (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed pre treatment  Mild boiled water treatment and soaking in cold water for 48 hrs; or keeping the seeds in cowdung slurry for 24 hrs (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination type  Epigeal (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination percentage  13 to 52 (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination period  45 to 120 days (Chacko et al., 2002).
Nursery technique  Pretreated seeds are sown in germination trays containing vermiculite and watered. Seed germinates after 45 days. Shoot growth is very slow and the root growth is very fast (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Chacko et al., 2002).
Method of propagation  By seeds
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  Low (Chacko et al., 2002).
Diseases  Nine fungi and a bacterium are recorded. Except Fusarium sp., all are storage moulds. Aspergillus candidus, A. niger, A. flavus, A. restrictus are the important storage fungi recorded on seeds (Mohanan and Anil Chandran, 2001; Chacko et al., 2002).
Medicinal properties  Leaves and root bark contain brucine, strychnine and vomocine. It is highly toxic to man and animal, producing stiffness of muscles and convulsions. Leaves are applied as a poultice on sloughing wounds and maggot infested ulcers. Decoction of bark is used in epilepsy. Juice of fresh wood is used in fever, cholera, dysentery and dyspepsia. Nux-vomica possesses intensely and persistently bitter taste; used as a tonic, stimulant and febrifuge, also used in the preparation for the remedy of nervous disorders (Bose et al., 1998). It is traditionally used by tribals of the Maruthamalai hills, Coimbatore District, Tamil Nadu and possesses activity against Aeromonas hydrophila, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella typhi (Senthilkumar et al., 2005).
Uses  The wood is not attacked by termites and is used in ploughs, axe handles etc. Seeds are the Nux vomica of commerce and yields the alkaliods strychnine and brucine. The wood is used locally for axe and hammer handles, agricultural implements and for ornamental panels. The seeds yield alkaloids, which are used in medicine (Chacko et al.,2002).
Wood properties  Wood is creamy white or yellowish grey, often with reddish brown lines, smooth, close-grained and durable, but liable to crack marked by numerous strands of included phloem, without any distinct heartwood. No heart-wood nor annual rings. Pores are large and scanty, mixed with others very small and numerous running in radial lines and clusters. Rays white, very conspicuous, fairly broad, crossed by wavy bands of darker tissue (Bourdillon, 1908).
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