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  Bauhinia malabarica Roxb.
Vernacular name  Amli, Kachnar (Hindi), Mandaram, Arampuli (Malayalam), Malayathi, Mandarai (Tamil) (Chacko et al., 2002); Vellathi (Tamil).
Common name  Kachnar (Chacko et al., 2002).
Synonyms  Piliostigma malabarica (Roxb.) Benth. var. acidum (Kirth.) de Wit. (Chacko et al., 2002).
Family  Leguminosae
Subfamily  Caesalpinioideae
Distribution  It occurs in semi evergreen and moist deciduous forests up to 600 m in Kerala. It has a very wide distribution throughout India. It occurs in the Sub-Himalayan tract and the lower Himalayas from the Ravi River eastwards to Assam, going up to 600 m in the Kumaon and 670 m in the Assam hills. It is also found in the hilly tract of Chota Nagpur, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Orissa and in the Western Peninsula (Troup, 1921).
Description  Slow growing, small to medium sized deciduous tree attaining a height of 15 m, breast height diameter 57 cm (FRI, 1983; Chacko et al., 2002).
Flowering season  September to January, August to October, flowering sometimes extending even to November (Troup, 1921).
Fruiting season  January to March; January to May (Sen Gupta, 1937; Chacko et al., 2002).
Flowers  Flowers 1.2 cm long, dull white, in small terminal paniculate racemes 3.8-7.9 cm long; pedicels 1.2-2.5 cm long; sepals 0.8-1.2 cm long, grey tomentose; petals oblong, spathulate, little exserted, bracts minute (Troup, 1921).
Fruits  Pod 18-30 cm or even up to 46 cm long and 2-5 cm across, nearly straight, marked when dry with raised wavy lines (Troup, 1921).
Fruit type  Pod.
Seeds  Seeds 20-30 per pod, ovoid-globose, 5 mm long, dark brown, polished (Troup, 1921).
Seed length  5 mm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed width 
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  1,100 to 2,600 seeds /kg (Luna, 1996; Kindt,1997; Chacko et al., 2002); 11,290 seeds/kg (Troup, 1921).
Seed dispersal 
Seed Collection  The ripe pods are collected from the trees or from the ground (FRI, 1983; Chacko et al., 2002).
Transportation of seeds  Pods gathered in cotton / plastic / polythene bags are transported to the processing centre soon after collection (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed processing  The pods are dried under sun and gently beaten with a wooden mallet to release seeds which are then cleaned by winnowing (FRI, 1983; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed storage  Orthodox (CABI, 1998; Chacko et al., 2002). The seeds are stored in gunny bags or earthen pots for about an year. Although, the seeds retain viability for about one year, the use of fresh seeds is recommended (FRI, 1983; Chacko et al., 2002).
Viability period  Seed is viable up to one year in sealed tins under natural conditions (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed emptiness  Low (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed pre treatment  Hot water treatment for one minute followed by cold water soaking for 24 hrs (Kindt, 1997; Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination type  Epigeal (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination percentage  14 to 18; 70 to 100 (FRI, 1983; Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination period  6 to 30 days (Luna, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002).
Nursery technique  Pre-treated seeds are sown in germination trays, containing vermiculite and watered regularly. When the seedlings emerge, they are pricked out into polythene bags of size 20 x 10 cm filled with potting mixture (Chacko et al., 2002).
Method of propagation  Direct sowing.
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  Very low (Chacko et al., 2002).
Diseases  12 fungi and bacterium are recorded. Fusarium sp., Periconia sp., Botryodiplodia theobromae were the important fungi recorded on seeds (Mohanan and Anil Chandran, 2001; Chacko et al., 2002).
Medicinal properties  The roots and bark are astringent, acrid, cooling, constipating, depurative, vulnerary and styptic. They are used in skin diseases, leprosy, worms, wounds and ulcers. Roots contain racemosol and demethylracemosol, together with their possible biogenetic precursors, preracemosol A and preracemosol B. Racemosol and demethylracemosol exhibit cytotoxicity against KB and BC cell lines and also exhibit moderate antimalarial activity (Kittakoop et al., 2000).
Uses  The timber is used as a fuel. It might be used as rafters and scantlings in cheap construction. The bark contain tannin (Troup, 1921).
Wood properties  The wood is reddish brown when freshly cut, with irregular black or purplish patches near the centre. It turns to a light greyish brown colour on ageing. The heartwood is not clearly distinct. It is fairly straight grained and medium coarse textured (Troup, 1921). Pores are moderate sized to large, scanty, surrounded by a ring of soft tissue, often oval and subdivided. Medullary rays very numerous, very fine, and regular (Gamble, 1922).
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