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  Syzygium cumini (L.) Skeels
Vernacular name  Njaval, Njara (Malayalam) (Sasidharan, 2004), Naval, Neredamm (Tamil), Jamun (Bose et al., 1998), Jaman, Jam (Hindi), (Chacko et al., 2002). Kalajam (Bengali), Neredu (Telungu).
Common name  Black plum, Jamun (Chacko et al., 2002), Skeels, Malabar plum, Indian black berry (Bose et al., 1998).
Synonyms  Eugenia jambolana Lam., E. cumini Druce. (Bose et al., 1998), Myrtus cumini L., Syzygium jambolanum (Lamk.) DC. (Sasidharan, 2004).
Family  Myrtaceae
Distribution  Widely distributed in tropical and subtropical parts of India and Sri Lanka; Malaysia; Malay archipelago; Myanmar, Thailand, also found in Australia, Philippines. Introduced in West Indies, Florida, California, East and West Africa and Israel. Occurs throughout India, including Andamans and other Union Territories. In Kerala, it is found in evergreen and semi evergreen forests, also in secred groves up to 1800 m (Bose et al., 1998; Chacko et al., 2002).
Description  A large, evergreen tree, 25 m high, beautiful, dense, well-formed canopy (Bose et al., 1998).
Flowering season  April to May (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruiting season  May to August (Sen Gupta, 1937; Chacko et al., 2002). Fruits ripen between June and August (Bose et al., 1998).
Flowers  Flowers whitish or greenish white, 6-8 mm across, fragrant, crowded, in short racemes arising below the leaves; calyx tube turbinate; petals calyptrate; stamens many (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruits  Fruit is an oblong, ovoid, juicy berry or drupe of 2-3 cm long, deep purple or almost black when fully ripe, pulp acidic or sweet, depending on the type and cultivar, purple or pink in colour (Chacko et al., 2002; Bose et al., 1998).
Fruit type  Berry.
Seeds  One seeded. Large sized seeds perform better in terms of germination and growth of seedlings (Ponnammal et al., 1992).
Seed length 
Seed width 
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  1,129 -1,210 seeds/kg; 3,880 fruits/kg (Sen Gupta, 1937); 1,100 to 1,300 seeds/kg (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992); 1,800 seeds/kg (FRI, 1984; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed dispersal  Birds
Seed Collection  The fruits are collected from the ground immediately after they have fallen (FRI, 1984). However, it is best to collect the ripe fruits, which are black in colour from the tree by shaking the branches (Chacko et al., 2002).
Transportation of seeds  Fruits collected in cotton or polythene bags are transported as quickly as possible since seeds are susceptible to fungal attack and has a very poor viability (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed processing  Immediately after collection, the pulp is removed by rubbing with hand, washed and dried under shade before sowing (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed storage  Recalcitrant (Hong and Ellis, 1996; Srimathi et al., 2003; Mazhar Abbas et al., 2003). The seeds lose their viability on storage and hence storage is not recommended (Dent, 1948); the seeds stored for three weeks have a very low germination (FRI, 1984; Chacko et al., 2002). Seeds lose viability within 5 days after shedding from trees, with a high initial moisture content (52% fresh weight basis), remain viable when stored at low temperatures (5-8oC) (Patil et al., 1997). Seeds are stored mixed with sand in the ratio 1: 4 and moistened up to 2% with water in polythene bags at 10oC (Srimathi et al., 2001). Critical moisture for safer storage of Jamum seed is 45-50% (Srimathi et al., 2003).
Viability period  Under natural conditions, seed loses viability within 15 days (Rai, 1999; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed emptiness  Low (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed pre treatment  Except de-pulping, no other treatment is needed (Chacko et al.,2002). Washing seeds with water after one day fermentation (Srimathi et al., 2003).
Germination type  Hypogeal (FRI, 1984; Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination percentage  Up to 90 (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination period  12 to 98 days (Sen Gupta, 1937; Chacko et al., 2002).
Nursery technique  Fresh seeds are sown in germination trays containing vermiculite and watered regularly. The seedlings are pricked out within 50 days to polythene bags of size 22.5 x 17.5 cm filled with soil based potting mixture and maintained under shade till the seedlings established (Rai, 1999). The seedlings can be retained in polythene bags for about 2 years (FRI, 1984; Chacko et al., 2002).
Method of propagation  Seeds, grafting, patch budding (Singh et al., 2004).
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  Low. Infestation is due to an unidentified caterpillar, which feeds on the fleshy pericarp often boring into the seed. A weevil, Sitophilus rugicollis has been reported to bore in seeds (Beeson, 1941; Chacko et al., 2002).
Diseases  Species of Trichoderma, Aspergillus, Mucor, Cladosporium are the storage moulds and Drechslera sp. and Botryodiplodia theobromae are recorded on seeds (Chacko et al., 2002).
Medicinal properties  The leaves are antibacterial and are used for strengthening the teeth. The fresh bark juice mixed with milk is used in diarrhoea. The bark is an astringent and remedy for sore throats, bronchitis, asthma, dysentery and several other diseases. The fruit is considered as a tonic and used to strengthen teeth and gum. The seeds are good for diabetes (Bose et al., 1998). The water and methanolic extracts of seeds possess antibacterial and antifungal activity (Chandrasekaran and Venkatesalu, 2004).
Uses  Wood is extensively used for post, beams, door frames and panels. The fruit is edible (Chacko et al.,2002), used for the manufacture of squashes, juices and jellies. The bark is used for tanning and dyeing.
Wood properties  A strong, hard, durable wood. Pale reddish or brownish grey without any distinct heartwood, though the central portion of the log is usually comparatively darker in colour. Suited for light constructional work and for internal fittings.
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