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  Ailanthus excelsa Roxb.
Vernacular name  Peenari, Matti, Pongilyam (Chacko et al., 2002); Peemaram, Peruppi (Malayalam) (Sasidharan, 2004); Pimaram, Pinari, Perumaram (Tamil); Peetheri, Doddamara (Kannada); Maharukh, Arua, Limbado (Hindi) (Chacko et al., 2002).
Common name  Ardusi, Mahanim (India), Tree of Heaven (Chacko et al., 2002).
Synonyms  Pongelion wightii Tieghem (Chacko et al., 2002).
Family  Simaroubaceae
Distribution  It occurs widely in some forests of Deccan, Bihar, Jharkhand, Western Ghats from N. Kanara, Karnataka to Travancore in road sides and garden.
Description  A lofty deciduous tree, large, fast growing, attaining a height of 18 to 24 m. Trunk straight, 60-80 cm in diameter.
Flowering season  February to March.
Fruiting season  April to May, May to July (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002).
Flowers  The panicles of small yellowish or creamy flowers about 10 mm across.
Fruits  Fruit is a samara, copper red winged with prominent veins (Chacko et al., 2002).
Fruit type  Samara.
Seeds  Samara, strongly veined, coppery red, twisted at the base and very short lived.
Seed length  7.2 cm (Chacko et al.,2002).
Seed width  0.185 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  4,200 to 18,000 seeds/kg (Kindt et al., 1997; Carlowitz, 1991; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed dispersal  Wind dispersal.
Seed Collection  Mature pods are usually blown away by wind. Therefore the seeds should be collected, when they are pale yellow in colour, from the tree, by lopping the fruiting twig (Chacko et al., 2002).
Transportation of seeds  The fruits collected in cotton or plastic bags may be transported as quickly as possible (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed processing  Since the winged seeds are light in weight, they are easily blown away by wind. The seeds are, therefore, dried on a clean surface with a covering of net/cloth to prevent them, from being blown away. Wings are removed by beating and the seeds cleaned by winnowing (Chacko et al; 2002).
Seed storage  Orthodox (Rawat et al., 2001). The seeds are stored in sealed airtight tins. Seeds stored at 5% moisture content and at 5oC retain about 70% viability after 3 years (Rawat et al., 2001; Chacko et al., 2002).
Viability period  Well dried seeds are viable for about one year in sealed containers under ambient temperatures (Rawat et al., 2001; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed emptiness  Moderate (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed pre treatment  Soaking in 2.5% potassium nitrate increase germination parameters and vigour index (Ramakrishnan et al., 1990). Seeds are sown in primary beds and coverd with fine soil. Seedlings are liable for damping off. Hence, care should be taken during watering.
Germination type  Epigeal (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination percentage  70 (Rawat et al., 2001) to 90 (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination period  15 to 25 days (Chacko et al., 2002).
Nursery technique  Fresh seeds are sown in plastic trays filled with vermiculite and watered. The seedlings are pricked out into polybags of 22.5 x 17.5 cm size filled with potting mixture. The seedlings will be ready for planting within three months, as the growth is very fast (Chacko et al., 2002).
Method of propagation  Natural reproduction occurs through seed and coppice.
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  Low (Chacko et al., 2002).
Diseases  Low (18 to 22%). Ten fungi and bacterium are recordeed. Botryodiplodia theobromae and Myrothecium sp. are the important fungi recorded (Mohanan and Anil Chandran, 2001; Chacko et al., 2002).
Medicinal properties  The leaves, bark and gum are of medicinal value. Leaves are specially used in asthma, bronchitis, dyspepsia in the treatment of weakness after child birth.The methanol extract of stem barks of Ailanthus excelsa partitioned with chloroform extract shows fungistatic and fungicidal activity (Joshi et al., 2003). Extracts of the root bark shows antitumour and cytotoxic activities (Ogura et al., 1977). Ailanthus excelsa bark is used for constipation.
Uses  The wood is used for manufacturing news print, in the match box industry and in the manufacture of packing cases. It is cultivated as an avenue tree for its deep shade and can be used for anti-erosion purposes. The wood is used in boxes, crates, poles, fishing floats, tool handles, matches and drums. The bark yields a gum of inferior quality.
Wood properties  It is soft, light, perishable, coloured yellowish white which turns greyish-white with age. The bark is rough and light grey. Air dry weight about 433 kg/m3. Wood white, soft. Pores large, scanty, subdivided, ringed. Medullary rays broad, numerous, close, the distance between them less than the transverse diameter of the pores (Gamble, 1922).
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