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 variegata Linn.
Vernacular name  Chuvanna Mandaram (Malayalam), Chemmandarei, Segapu-manchori (Tamil), Padrian, Barial guiral (Hindi) (Chacko et al., 2002).
Common name  Kanchar, Buddhist Bauhinia, (Bose et al., 1998); Mountain ebony (Chacko et al., 2002; Sasidharan, 2004).
Family  Leguminosae
Subfamily  Caesalpinioideae
Origin  N.W. India (Sasidharan, 2004).
Distribution  The tree is a native of India and Myanmar. It is a popular flowering tree not only in India but also in many other tropical countries (Bose et al., 1998). Occurs in the dry forests of eastern and central parts of India. In Kerala, it is grown as an ornamental tree in gardens for its beautiful flowers (FRI, 1983; Chacko et al., 2002). Common in Sub-Himalayan tracts, dry forest of East, central and south India. A tree of dry rocky hills.
Description  A Small to medium sized, slow growing, ornamental, deciduous tree attaining a height of 15 m and a breast height diameter of 48 cm; young shoots brown-pubescent (Troup, 1921).
Flowering season  February to April (Sahni, 2000; Troup, 1921).
Fruiting season  May to June (Sahni, 2000).
Flowers  Large up to 7.5 cm diameter, fragrant, pure white or pink or purplish, almost sessile, in short few flowered racemes; calyx cylindric below; lobes 5, ovate; petals 5, obovate, oblanceolate, 4 lighter in colour, 5th a larger and darker; stamens 5, fertile (Bose et al., 1998; Troup, 1921).
Fruits  Pod, 15-30 cm x 1.8-2.5cm, oblong, turgid, papillose when mature, flat, hard, subwoody, bursting when ripe (Chacko et al., 2002).
Fruit type  Pod.
Seeds  Flat, compressed, 10-15, nearly circular, 1.3-1.9 cm diameter, brown.
Seed length 
Seed width  1.3-1.9 cm diameter (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  1,700 to 3,530 seeds/kg (Sen Gupta, 1937; Kumar and Bhanja, 1992, Kindt, 1997; Chacko et al., 2002); 1,560-2,820 seeds/kg.
Seed dispersal  Bees.
Seed Collection  Pods are collected just before dehiscence from the trees (FRI, 1983; Chacko et al., 2002).
Transportation of seeds  Pods collected in cotton / plastic / polythene bags, are transported to the processing centre at the earliest (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed processing  Pods are dried in the sun on a mat covered with a muslin cloth to release the seeds. They are cleaned of impurities and pod fragments and stored in a cool dry place (FRI, 1983; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed storage  Orthodox (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; CABI, 1998). Seeds are stored in sealed tins for about a year. However, it is desirable to use seeds of the same year of collection (FRI, 1983; Chacko et al., 2002). Lyophilization is an efficient seed drying method and it will not affect the length of the seed storage period. Duration of storage and storage conditions up to 90 days does not have any influence on the germination. Storage of seeds under room temperature negatively influence the germination after 2 years (Aguiar and Figliolia, 1996).
Viability period  One year in sealed tins (FRI, 1983; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed emptiness  Low (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed pre treatment  Cold water soaking for 24 hrs, hot water soaking (80oC for 5 min), light incubation (in 8 h daily cycle) and mechanical scarification improve germination (Lopes et al., 2007; Kindt, 1997; Chacko et al., 2002; Sinhababu et al., 2007). However, seed scarification with sandpaper or immersion in cold water for two hrs and treatment with sulfuric acid (20 min) impair seedling emergence speed (Martinelli-Seneme et al., 2006).
Germination type  Epigeal (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination percentage  50 to 95 (FRI, 1983 from Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination period  9 to 30 days (Sen Gupta, 1937; 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 cm x 10 cm and filled with potting mixture (Chacko et al., 2002).
Method of propagation  By seeds.
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  Low (Chacko et al., 2002).
Diseases  Trichothecium sp., Aspergillus sp., Cladosporium sp., Colletotrichum sp., Fusarium sp., Penicillium sp. and Rhizopus sp. are the fungus species found in the seeds, however without affecting germination and vigor (Martinelli-Seneme et al., 2006).
Medicinal properties  Almost every part of the plant is used medicinally in India. The root, bark, flowering buds, and flowers are medicinally important. The bark is anti inflammatory, useful in skin diseases and ulcers. Dried buds are used in dysentery, piles, and worms. The buds and roots cure digestive ailments and roots are used in the treatment of snake-bite. The bark of this tree is prescribed for a number of diseases including asthma and ulcers (Bose et al., 1998). Plant has antidiarrhoea activities. These species are used as folk medicines in the treatment of diarrhoea by the rural people and common people of Meerut district (Amit-Tomar, 2007). Ethanol extract is a potent cytotoxic towards EAC (Ehrlich ascites carcinoma) tumour cells (Rajkapoor et al., 2003).
Uses  The plant is of value for decorative purposes. The tree yields a gum with the properties of cherry gum. It is valued as it grows in poor soils and protects the soils from sliding and erosion. Wood is suitable for making agricultural implements. Bark is used for tanning and dyeing. The leaves are good fodder and the timber is a good fuel (Sahni, 2000).
Wood properties  The wood is light grey brown, with irregular patches of harder and darker wood in the centre. It is moderately hard and moderately heavy wood with rather coarse texture and straight to interlocked grain. Pores scanty, often subdivided, moderate sized to large, in rings of soft tissue and usually in the soft belt. Medullary rays numerous, fine, rather indistinct, silver-grain inconspicuous, but pores well marked on vertical sections (Gamble, 1922).
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