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  Swietenia mahagoni (Linn.) Jacq.
Vernacular name  Mahagani, Cheriamahogony (Malayalam), Cimainukku Mahogany (Tamil) (Chacko et al., 2002), Mahagni (Bengali)
Common name  Spanish mahogany, Small-leaved mahogany (Chacko et al., 2002).
Synonyms  Cedrus mahagoni L. (Chacko et al., 2002).
Family  Meliaceae
Origin  West Indies.
Distribution  Native to West Indies. The mahagony indigenous in Jamaica and Central America. It is now grown in almost all tropical countries of the world because of its magnificent appearance and very valuable timber (Bose et al., 1998).
Description  Moderately fast growing, medium sized to large evergreen tree with stout trunk and uniformly spreading crown, attaining a height of 30 m and a breast height diameter of 143 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Flowering season  February to May; April to May (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruiting season  October to December (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002); August to October (Bose et al., 1998).
Flowers  Greenish yellow, in axillary pendulous panicles, quite glabrous. Petals 5, obovate-oblong, spreading; stamens form a tube with 10 teeth above, arising from a small disc (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruits  Fruit is a woody capsule, five valved (Chacko et al., 2002) 7-9 cm in diameter (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruit type  Capsule.
Seeds  Seeds many, flat, winged and arranged on the central axis (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed length  5.4 cm (FRI, 1981).
Seed width  1.5 cm (FRI, 1981).
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  3527 seeds/kg (with wings) (Sen Gupta, 1937) to 9100 seeds/kg (Tompsett and Kemp, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed dispersal 
Seed Collection  The capsules are collected from trees just before they start to dehisce. The fruits and seeds can also be collected from the ground soon after fall (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002).
Transportation of seeds  The capsules or seeds are transported in closed containers. Moist material should be ventilated (Tompsett and Kemp, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed processing  Capsules are sun dried and the seeds are taken out when the capsules open (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed storage  Orthodox (Tompsett and Kemp, 1996). Seeds dried in the sun and stored in an airtight tin will remain fairly viable for over six months (Brandis, 1971). Dried seeds (4% MC or lower) should be retained in hermetic storage at 2oC. For long-term storage, lower moisture contents (down to 2%) and very low temperatures (-13oC or less) are desirable (Tompsett and Kemp, 1996). When stored in open baskets, the viability loses rapidly after six months (Dent, 1948; Chacko et al., 2002).
Viability period  Under normal conditions, seeds are viable up to 6 months (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed emptiness  Low (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed pre treatment  No pretreatment other than de-winging is required (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination type  Hypogeal (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination percentage  86 (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination period  14 to 28 days (Chacko et al., 2002).
Nursery technique  Seeds are sown horizontally to a depth of 2 cm in germination trays containing vermiculite. Germination commences within 14 days of sowing and continues for about 32 days. The seedlings are transferred to polybags of 22.5 x 17.5 cm or root trainers filled with potting mixture, when they attain a 15 cm height. The seedlings are ready for planting after 3 months of potting (Chacko et al., 2002).
Method of propagation 
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  Infestation by unidentified caterpillar is noticed in fallen fruits. Shoot and fruit borer, Hypsipyla rubusta is a serious pest of fruits (Beeson, 1941; Chacko et al., 2002).
Diseases  Spermoplane microorganisms recorded include 23 fungi and a bacterium. Species of Aspergillus, Penicillium, Chaetomium, Cladosporium are the important storage moulds. Botryodiplodia theobromae, Rhizoctonia sp., Drechslera sp., Fusarium sp., are the important field fungi (Chacko et al., 2001; Chacko et al., 2002).
Medicinal properties  The bark contains tannin and may serve as an antipyretic, tonic and astringent. The bark of the tree is used as an astringent and as a substitute for cinchona (Bose et al., 1998).
Uses  Wood is used extensively for furniture and also used for ship building. Also, it is a common tree in gardens and on road sides (Bose et al., 1998).
Wood properties  Wood is hard, reddish brown, season and works well. Annual rings marked by a continuous line of pores with few or no pores in the autumn wood. Pores moderate sized, scanty, uniformly distributed, often subdivided, sometimes filled with resin. Medullary rays very short, very numerous, moderately broad, uniform and equidistant, giving a handsome silver grain (Gamble, 1922).
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