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  Alstonia scholaris (L.) R. Br.
Vernacular name  Pala, Elaipalai, Mukampalei (Tamil); Ezhilampala, Kodapal, Mangalapala, Pala (Malayalam); Chatian, Chatium (Hindi) (Chacko et al., 2002).
Common name  Devils tree, Black board tree (Chacko et al., 2002); Chatian.
Synonyms  Echites scholaris L. (Sasidharan, 2004; Chacko et al., 2002).
Family  Apocynaceae
Distribution  Occurs throughout the moist regions of India in Northern tropical semi-evergreen forest and in the West coast forests (Sahni, 2000). In Kerala, it occurs in moist deciduous forests (Chacko et al., 2002).
Description  Fast growing, large buttressed and fluted evergreen tree reaching 30 m height, and a breast height diameter of 143 cm (FRI, 1985; Chacko et al., 2002). Branches whorled, exuding milk latex when cut (Sahni, 2000).
Flowering season  December to March (Sahni, 2000); November to December (Bourdillon, 1908); October to December (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruiting season  May to July (Gopikumar et al., 2003); December to January and April to May (FRI, 1985; Luna, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002; Bhat et al., 2003).
Flowers  Greenish-white, flowers small, numerous in umbellate panicles, corolla tube short, very strongly scented, born in capitate cymes. Flowers small, greenish white, in many-flowered corymbose cymes on long terminal stalks; calyx 5-lobed; corolla tube about 6 mm long (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruits  Fruit is a pair of follicles, slender, 30-60 cm long and pendulous with numerous seeds, which are linear-oblong shaped with a tuft of hairs at both ends (Chacko et al., 2002).
Fruit type  Follicle.
Seeds  Seeds about 3 lines long, the hairs at each end longer than the seed itself.
Seed length  0.8 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed width 
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  2,70,000 to 6,60,000 seeds/kg (FRI, 1985; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed dispersal  By wind.
Seed Collection  Fruits are collected from the trees by lopping branches just before they dehisce. Care should be taken while collecting the seeds as the pods may burst open and release the seeds (FRI, 1985: Chacko et al., 2002).
Transportation of seeds  Follicles (Fruits) are loosely packed in cotton bags / plastic bags and transported. Adequate air circulation with in the stack should be ensured (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed processing  Care should be taken during extraction of the seeds. Do not keep the follicles exposed, as the seeds are blown away by wind easily. Keep follicles in cotton bags for a few days, till they dehisce and release the seeds (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed storage  Orthodox (CABI, 1998). Seeds can be stored for two months in sacks (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Chacko et al., 2002).
Viability period  Seeds are viable for about two months under natural conditions (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed emptiness  No information (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed pre treatment  No treatment is required (Chacko et al., 2002). However, soaking in IAA (200 ppm), water soaking for 24 h and continuous hot water (50oC) soaking for 30 min. improve germination (Kundu et al., 1998).
Germination type  Epigeal (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination percentage  50 to 60 (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination period  14 to 20 days (Chacko et al., 2002).
Nursery technique  Seeds are sown in germination trays filled with vermiculite and watered regularly. Seedlings are potted in polythene bags of size 22.5 x 17.5 cm filled with soil and maintained under shade and irrigation (Chacko et al., 2002).
Method of propagation  By seeds, Vegetative propagation.
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  No information (Chacko et al., 2002).
Diseases  No information (Chacko et al., 2002).
Medicinal properties  The fresh bark juice with milk is administered in leprosy. Also as a bitter tonic. The bark is used to dispel fever and in the treatment of dysentery, skin diseases, asthma, malarial fever and ulcers. Bark drugs from Alstonia is used for the treatment of different human ailments (Khan et al., 2003). Extracts from leaves, bark and flowers of A. scholaris posses antimalarial, antidiarrhoeal, antifilarial, antimutagenic and antileishmanial properties (Ansari et al., 2004). Crude methanolic extracts of Alstonia scholaris show antibacterial activity against 25 bacteria (including Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, Proteus vulgaris and Pseudomonas aeruginosa), a protozoan (Trichomonas vaginalis) and 11 fungi (including Aspergillus niger, Cladosporium cladosporioides, Penicillium notatum [P. chrysogenum] and Trichophyton mentagrophytes) (Khan et al., 2003). Flower extracts at 1:10 (w/v) concentration shows nematicidal activity against root-knot nematode (M. incognita) (Rakesh Pandey et al., 2001; Saleem et al., 1997). Ethanolic extract of fruits of Alstonia scholaris possess anthelmintic activity against adult earthworms (Pheretima posthuma) (Shankar et al., 2007). In addition, A. scholaris contain various alkaloids, flavonoids and phenolic acids having antimicrobial, antiamoebic, antidiarrhoeal, antiplasmodial, hepatoprotective, immunomodulatory, anti-cancer, antiasthmatic, free radical scavenging, antioxidant, analgesic, antiinflammatory, antiulcer, antifertility and wound healing activities. Traditionally it is also used for its cardiotonic, anti-diabetic and anti-arthritic properties (Arulmozhi et al., 2007). It is used as a bitter tonic, febrifuge and anthelmintic. It also serves as a remedy for malaria, diarrhoea and dysentery (Arambewela and Ratnayake, 1991).
Uses  Aqueous extract of latex is of great value for the control of harmful aquatic snails Lymnaea acuminata and Indoplanorbis exustus and other molluscan pests (Ajay Singh and Singh, 2005). Leaves, bark and roots possess echitamine, picrinine and tubotaiwine and picraline deacetyl (Arambewela and Ratnayake, 1991). The tree is used for the construction of flood trap. It is easily raised through seeds. The wood is used for packing cases, match splints, tea boxes and furniture. Also used in paper industry.
Wood properties  Wood white, soft, even grained, lustrous. The bark is grey and rough and exude a milky latex when cut. Wood of Alstonia scholaris is suitable for pencil manufacture (Khan, 1963).
References  Get ...
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