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 triphysa (Dennst.) Alston
Vernacular name  Perumaram, Matti, Pongilium (Malayalam) (Sasidharan, 2004); Mattipal (Tamil); Dhupa, Hal-maddi (Kannada) (Chacko et al., 2002).
Common name  Maharuk (Chacko et al., 2002).
Synonyms  Adenanthera triphysa Dennst., Ailanthus malabarica DC. (Chacko et al., 2002; Sasidharan, 2004).
Family  Simaroubaceae
Distribution  Occurs in the Western Ghats, from Konkan, Southwards to Kerala up to 1500 m. It also occurs in Myanmar (FRI, 1981). This indigenous tree is widely cultivated in Kerala (Chacko et al., 2002). In Kerala it occurs in Thrissur, Malappuram, Idukki, Palghat, Calicut and Thiruvananthapuram districts.
Description  Fast growing evergreen tree attaining a height of 30 m and breast height diameter of 95 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Flowering season  February to March (Bose et al.,1998); March to April (Chacko,2002).
Fruiting season  May to June, March to April (Rai, 1999; Chacko et al., 2002).
Flowers  Flowers large in lax, much branched panicles.
Fruits  Fruits is a samara, winged membranous, reddish-brown, flat and obtuse at the ends (Luna, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002).
Fruit type  Samara.
Seeds  Samara, 1-seeded, oblong, 6.4 x 7.6 cm, flat, reddish brown with rounded ends, very short lived.
Seed length  8.5 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed width  2 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  24,000 to 25,000 (Kindt,1997; Chacko et al., 2002); 7,620 to 10,000 fruits/kg (With wings) (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed dispersal  Wind dispersal.
Seed Collection  Mature fruits are collected from the tree by lopping off the fruiting branches, since they are wind dispersed (Luna, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002).
Transportation of seeds  Fruits are collected in cotton / plastic / polythene / gunny bags, packed and transported by ensuring air-circulation within the stack (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed processing  The fruits are dried under sun and the insect attacked ones are removed by hand picking (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed storage  Orthodox (Kindt et al., 1997). Fruits can be stored in gunny bags for about 3 months (Luna, 1996; Nair, 2000; Chacko et al., 2002).
Viability period  Seed is viable up to two months under ambient conditions (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed emptiness  Moderate (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed pre treatment  Removal of the wings before sowing will help in sowing more seeds in the given space (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination type  Epigeal (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination percentage  70 (Luna, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination period  10 to 20 days (Luna, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002).
Nursery technique  The de-winged seeds are sown flat in plastic trays containing vermiculite and watered regularly. Heavy watering causes rotting of the seeds. Seedlings are potted in polythene bags of size 22.5 x 17.5 cm. Seedlings in the nursery are susceptible to defoliator attack, which can be controlled by spraying insecticide (Rai, 1999). Seedlings are also affected by damping off, collar rot and seedling blight diseases, which can be controlled by fungicidal application (Sharma et al., 1985; Chacko et al., 2002).
Method of propagation  By seeds.
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  Moderate. Most damage is caused by the leaf and shoot webber, Atteva fabriciella Swed. (Lepidoptera: Attevidae/ Yponomeutidae) which webs the tender shoots and developing fruits and feeds on it (Chacko et al., 2002).
Diseases  Damping off caused by Pythium sp.; collar rot caused by Rhizoctonia solani; seedling blight caused by Colletotrichum dematium; and bacterial leaf spot caused by Pseudomonas (Sharma et al., 1987). High (30 to 91%). More than 23 fungi and a bacterium are recorded on seeds. Aspergillus sp. and Pencillium sp. are the important storage moulds. Drechslera sp., Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, Curvularia sp., Fusarium moniliforme, Helminthosporium sp., Phoma sp. are the important field fungi recorded on seeds (Mohanan and Anil Chandran, 2001; Chacko et al.,2002).
Medicinal properties  The bark, the gum that exudes from the trunk, leaves and roots are used in medicine.
Uses  The bark extract is a valuable tonic, febrifuge and carminative. It is also used as an incense and forms an ingredient of agarbattis. The crude resin and ester val contains a volatile oil. Wood is used for match boxes and splints.
Wood properties  The bark is grey, smooth in young tree. The air dry weight of wood about 400 kg/m3. Wood white, very soft and spongy. Pores large, scanty, subdivided. Medullary rays short, moderately broad, the distance between the rays being greater than the transverse diameter of the pores (Gamble, 1922).
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