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  Toona ciliata Roem.
Vernacular name  Mathigiri vembu, Chandana vembu, Akil, Chevvanakil, Malarveppu (Malayalam), Santhana vembu (Tamil), Mahanim, Tun (Hindi) (Chacko et al., 2002).
Common name  Red cedar, Toon, Moulmelin cedar.
Synonyms  Cedrela toona Roxb. ex Willd. (Sasidharan, 2004; Chacko et al., 2002).
Family  Meliaceae
Distribution  Widely distributed in the Sub - Himalayan tract and the valleys of outer Himalayas from Jammu and Kashmir eastwards to Manipur and on the Eastern and Western Ghats. It also occurs in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and tropical Australia (FRI, 1981; Bose et al., 1998; Chacko et al., 2002).
Description  Large semi-deciduous tree with a spreading crown growing up to 40 m height and 96 cm breast height diameter above buttress (Chacko et al., 2002; Bose et al., 1998).
Flowering season  February to March (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruiting season  May to June (Bose et al., 1998; Rai, 1999; Chacko et al., 2002).
Flowers  Small, white, honey-scented, cream coloured, about 6 mm long in drooping or sub-erected, terminal panicles, usually shorter than the leaves. Sepals 5, ciliate; petals 5, ciliate on the edges; stamens 5 on orange-coloured disc (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruits  Fruit is a dark brown oblong capsule which when ripe opens by 5 walls (Chacko et al., 2002).
Fruit type  Capsule.
Seeds  Seeds small, flat, pale brown, very light, winged at both ends (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed length 
Seed width 
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  1,20,000 to 5,90,000 seeds/kg (Chacko et al.,2002).
Seed dispersal  Wind dispersal.
Seed Collection  Capsules are collected from the tree by lopping off the branches when they turn brown, since the capsules dehisce and the lighter seeds are dispersed by wind (Chacko et al., 2002).
Transportation of seeds  Capsules collected in cotton / plastic / polythene bags are transported to processing centre soon after collection (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed processing  Dry the capsules in the sun for 1 to 2 days and the seeds are separated by gently thrashing the dried capsules (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed storage  Probably intermediate. Seeds can be stored for about one month (Rai, 1999; Chacko et al., 2002).
Viability period  Seeds are viable for one month under ambient room temperature (Rai, 1999; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed emptiness  Moderate (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed pre treatment  Not necessary (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination type  Epigeous
Germination percentage  Up to 60 (Rai,1999; Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination period  8 to 15 days (Rai, 1999; Chacko et al., 2002).
Nursery technique  Seeds are broadcasted in the month of July, in raised beds of soil, sand and FYM (2:1:1) and covered with a thin layer of soil and river sand (2:1). Beds are either kept open, shaded overhead (60 cm from ground level) with grasses or mulched with dry leaves and pine needles in severe sunny sites (Beniwal et al., 1990). When the seedlings are about 6 to 8 cm tall, they are pricked out in polythene bags of 22.5 x 17.5 cm size filled with soil based potting mixture (Chacko et al., 2002).
Method of propagation 
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  Low. Incidence of the shoot and fruit borer Hypsipyla robusta Moore has been reported to be serious pest of fruits and seeds (Beeson, 1941; Chacko et al., 2002).
Diseases  Low. Fusarium moniliforme, Botrytis cinera, Aspergillus sp. were recorded (Mohanan and Sharma, 1991; Chacko et al., 2002).
Medicinal properties  Flowers emmenagogue, used in menstrual disorders. Bark is anti-periodic, astringent, for the treatment of dysentery, a tonic and also a febrifuge. Also useful in chronic dysentery (Bose et al., 1998; Singh and Plant, 1995; Warrier et al., 1996).
Uses  Wood is used in furniture, house construction of ceiling, boarding etc. The dye extracted from the flowers is used in dyeing cotton and wollen fabrics (Purkayastha, 1996).
Wood properties  The sapwood is pinkish or greyish white. The heartwood is light brick-red when freshly cut, ageing to a rich reddish brown. The wood is light, rather uneven-textured and moderately hard. Wood is even but open grained, fragrant, seasons readly, does not split or warp. Annual rings distinctly marked by a belt of large and numerous pores. Pores frequently double or subdivided, unequally distributed, scanty in the autumn wood, somewhat unequal in size, prominent on a vertical section; those in the spring wood larger. Medullary rays red, fine and moderately broad, uniform, bent round the pores; giving a marked silver grain (Gamble, 1922; Purkaytastha,1996).
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