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  Thespesia populnea (L.) Soland. ex Correa
Vernacular name  Poovarasu, Cheelanthi, (Chacko et al., 2002), Chandamaram (Malayalam), Puvarasam, poris, purasia, pursung (Gamble, 1922). Pursa (Tamil), Bhendi (Hindi), Bugari (Kannada) (Chacko et al., 2002).
Common name  Pacific rosewood (Chacko et al., 2002), Tulip tree, Portia tree, Umbrella tree (Bose et al., 1998).
Synonyms  Hibiscus populnea L., Thespesia macrophylla Blume (Chacko et al., 2002)
Family  Malvaceae
Distribution  Found throughout the tropics of the world. Within India it occurs on the coast of mainland and the Andamans. Found along the beach and tidal forests of the west coast from Konkan southwards and on the coasts of Chittagong and the Andamans (Luna, 1996). In Kerala it is mostly grown in homesteads and open lands in the lowland areas near sea coasts (Chacko et al.,2002). The tree is distributed in the beach and tidal forests in many tropical countries including India; Sri Lanka; Myanmar; Malaysia; the Pacific Islands; Africa; often grown on roadsides and in gardens (Bose et al., 1998).
Description  Fast-growing small to moderate-sized evergreen tree with a dense spreading, well shaped crown, attaining a height of 20 m and a breast height diameter of 38 cm, branchlets peltate, scaly (FRI, 1975; Luna, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002).
Flowering season  In almost all seasons, but abundantly during the hot months (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruiting season  February to May (Abdul Kader and Chacko, 2000).
Flowers  Large yellow, axillary, solitary, bell-shaped, 5-7 cm across with a deep red centre fading to dull purple; calyx, cup shaped, truncate; stamens numerous, form a tube (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruits  Capsule, globose covered with minute stalked scales (Chacko et al., 2002).
Fruit type  Capsule.
Seeds  Ovoid pubescent seeds, silky (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed length  9.28 mm (Abdul Kader and Chacko, 2000).
Seed width  7.35 mm (Abdul Kader and Chacko, 2000).
Seed thickness  5.87 mm (Abdul Kader and Chacko, 2000).
Seed weight  2,600 to 5,000; 6190 seeds/kg (Abdul Kader and Chacko, 2000).
Seed dispersal 
Seed Collection  Collect the mature capsule from the tree by lopping off the branches (Abdul Kader and Chacko, 2000).
Transportation of seeds  Capsules transported to the processing centre soon after collection (Abdul Kader and Chacko, 2000).
Seed processing  Dry the capsules under the sun and break open by a wooden stick. Seeds are extracted by hand and dried again in sun (Abdul Kader and Chacko, 2000).
Seed storage  Orthodox (Abdul Kader and Chacko, 2000). Seeds can be stored well in sealed plastic containers for more than one year (Abdul Kader and Chacko, 2000).
Viability period  Under ambient temperatures, the seeds remain viable in closed plastic containers for more than one year (Abdul Kader and Chacko, 2000).
Seed emptiness  Low (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed pre treatment  Sulphuric acid sacrification for 20 min followed by 24 hrs cold water soaking (Abdul Kader and Chacko, 2000). Mercury has a toxic effect on germination and growth of Thespesia populnea at 25 and 50 ppm (Iqbal and Naz, 2005). Acid scarification for 10-20 min is the most effective in seed dormancy breaking. But, acid scarification for 30 min reduce seed germination from 100 to 88.6% (Veena-Gupta et al., 2004).
Germination type  Epigeal (Abdul Kader and Chacko, 2000).
Germination percentage  Up to 80 (Abdul Kader and Chacko, 2000).
Germination period  3 to 28 days (Abdul Kader and Chacko, 2000).
Nursery technique  The pre-treated trees are sown in germination trays containing vermiculite and watered daily. Prick out the seedlings when they have a pair of leaves. Care should be taken as the seedlings are susceptible to damping off (Abdul Kader and Chacko, 2000).
Method of propagation  Vegetative propagation using branch cutting (Basak et al., 1995; Chacko et al., 2002). IBA at 2000 and 3000 ppm are effective in rooting of cuttings (Parthiban et al., 1999). Double nodal branch cuttings are treated with IBA 2000 ppm and maintained at r
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  No information (Chacko et al., 2002).
Diseases  No information (Chacko et al., 2002).
Medicinal properties  The plant is reported to be used in treating cases of scabies, psoriasis, ringworm, leprosy, wounds and ulcers. Fruit, juice, root and heartwood are medicinal. The deep red heartwood is said to be used as a remedy in heart attacks. The tree is very valuable for its medicinal uses. Leaves, flowers, fruits and bark are used as remedy for skin diseases. The root is used as a tonic, bark cures dysentery, fresh fruits bruised and applied to foreheads to cure migraine (Bose et al., 1998). Used in the treatment of jaundice and also for fungal infection (Siddhartha-Roy and Das, 2004; Nadanakunjidam, 2003).
Uses  Timber is used for boat building, agricultural implements, for cart wheels, carriages, furniture, tool handles etc. (Chacko et al., 2002). The fibre of the bark is used in cordage. Leaves are used as a fodder also.
Wood properties  The sapwood is soft white with a pinkish cast. The heartwood is sharply differentiated from the sapwood, which is reddish to purplish brown, with darker streaks. It is moderately hard and heavy wood. The average air dry weight is 769 kg/m3. Pores evenly distributed, of moderate size, few. Rays fine and uniform (Bourdillon, 1908). Medullary rays fine, uniform, the distance between two rays generally equal to the transverse diameter of the pores (Gamble, 1922).
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