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  Mesua ferrea Linn.
Vernacular name  Nangal, Nangu (Tamil) (Gamble, 1922); Nanku, Churuli, Vayanavu, (Sasidharan, 2004); Nangu, Nagappuvu, Eliponku (Malayalam); Nagkesar (Hindi and Bengal)
Common name  Iron wood tree, Nagkesar, Mesua
Synonyms  M. coromandelina, M. pendundilata, M. speciosa, M. roxburghii, M. sclerophylla, M. pulchella (Troup, 1921); M.nagassarium (Burm.f.) Kosterm. (Sasidharan, 2004)
Family  Clusiaceae (Guttiferae)
Distribution  Andaman Islands, South India, also in Sri Lanka; Myanmar and Malaysia; planted for valuable timber (Bose et al., 1998)
Description  A moderate sized to large evergreen tree, 10 to 25 m high with straight trunk
Flowering season  January to June, February to May, depending on the climate (Bose et al., 1998); January to April (Bourdillon, 1908); February to April, May to even June (Troup, 1921)
Fruiting season  Ripens during October to March (Bourdillon, 1908); May to June (Myanmar); in Assam it ripens from August to October
Flowers  Solitary, generally terminal, fragrant, bisexual, nearly sessile, 5 to 7 cm across; sepals four in 2 rows, ovoid; petals four, imbricate, up to 3 cm long, ovate; stamens numerous, yellow; ovary 2-celled. Large scented white flower with numerous prominent stamens (Bose et al., 1998)
Fruits  Oviod, pointed, 3-4 cm in diameter, 2 valved, woody nature, valves tough, supported by the enlarged sepals
Fruit type  Seeds 1 to 4, testa hard, shining-brown, embryo a fleshy homogenous mass, oily and quickly lose vitality
Seed length 
Seed width 
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  333 to 444 /kg
Seed dispersal  Animals, bats
Seed Collection 
Transportation of seeds 
Seed processing 
Seed storage 
Viability period 
Seed emptiness 
Seed pre treatment  The seeds should be soaked in water for 24 hrs.
Germination type  Hypogeous (Troup, 1921)
Germination percentage  80 to 90
Germination period 
Nursery technique 
Method of propagation  By seeds and vegetative method
Vegetative propagation 
Medicinal properties  Seeds yield a fatty oil which may be blanched and used for soap making and also used for skin troubles and rheumatism
Uses  Seed extremely rich in oils and it is used for the manufature of soaps and certain types of varnishes. It is a good manure due to its being rich in nitrogen and phosphorous. The wood is very durable, it is rarely attacked by white ants and used for furniture and house building. The flowers are used in perfumery (Bose et al., 1998)
Wood properties  Sapwood is greyish white or pinkish white, sharply demarcated from the heartwood, which is brick red occasionally with darker streaks on the longitudinal surface. It is a very hard and heavy wood with medium fine texture and straight to interlocked grain. Wood somewhat resumbling that of Calophyllum, but much harder and heavier. Heartwood dark red, extremely hard. Pores moderate size, scanty, often filled with yellow resin, singly or group, or in oblique strings of varying length. Medullary rays extremely fine, uniform, equidistant, very numerous (Gamble, 1922)
References  Get ...
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