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  Casuarina litorea L.
Vernacular name  Choolamaram, Kattadi (Malyalam); Cavukku maram, Kattadi maram (Tamil) (Chacko et al., 2002); Sura (Marathi), Jangli jhar (Hindi) (Bose et al., 1998).
Common name  Coast She-oak (Chacko et al., 2002). Choolamaram, Iron wood, Beef wood, Janglisaru, Australian oak (Bose et al., 1998).
Synonyms  Casuarina littoralis Salisb. (Chacko et al., 2002); Casuarina equisetifolia L. (Sasidharan, 2004).
Family  Casuarinaceae
Subfamily 
Origin  Andamans to Polynesia (Sasidharan, 2004).
Distribution  Indigenous on sandy shores and dunes along the coast of North-east and North Australia, the Pacific Islands, the Malay Archipelago and Peninsula, Myanmar, the Andamans and Nicobars, on beaches and sand dunes close to the sea (Luna, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002).
Description  A large to medium sized evergreen fast growing lofty tree with a straight stem and feathery foliage that appears to be leafless. It attains a height up to 50 m and a breast height diameter of 64 cm. It has a crown of green drooping branches resembling pine needles (NAS, 1980; Rai, 1999; Chacko et al., 2002).
Flowering season  February to April and September to October (Sahni, 2000).
Fruiting season  June to December (Sahni, 2000).
Flowers  Unisexual, arranged in small spikes. The male growing in long spikes and the female arranged in compact clusters about 1 cm across (Sahni, 2000). Flowers exhibit strong anemophilous adaptations such as very high pollen output, reduced flowers with large stigmatic area and light weighing winged fruits. Pollen is viable up to 99%, storable in 4oC up to three months with no loss in fertility (Nagarajan et al., 2006).
Fruits  Multiple, globose, woody cones, 1.87 cm diameter containing a number of winged achenes.
Fruit type  Samara or achene.
Seeds  Enclosed in an achene, which is light brown, terminating in a membraneous wing. Larger seeds show better germination (60%) and seedling growth and vigour (Umarani et al., 1997).
Seed length  6 mm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed width 
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  7,50,000 seeds/kg (Rai, 1999; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed dispersal  Wind and insect dispersal.
Seed Collection  Ripe cones are collected from the tree when dehiscence is seen in a few cones (Chacko et al., 2002). Cones collecting from the top portion of the tree crown give higher seed recovery and better seed growth performance (Jerlin and Srimathi, 1997).
Transportation of seeds  Cones collected in cotton / plastic / gunny bags are transported to the processing centre as quickly as possible (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed processing  Cones are spread out in shade and covered with gunny bags. After 3 or 4 days, the cones open up and the winged seeds come out. Healthy seeds are dark brown in colour with slightly yellowish wings. The seed yield from cones varies between 1.4 to 4.5 % by weight (Subramanian et al., 1992; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed storage 
Viability period  Seeds are viable only for a short period under ambient condition. Seeds give 5% germination after one year (Subbarao and Rodriguez-Barrueco, 1995; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed emptiness  Low (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed pre treatment  Treatment with 1.5% KNO3 and 7.5% CaOCl2 for 36 hrs (Subbarao and Rodriguez-Barrueco, 1995; Chacko et al., 2002). Soaking the seed in tap water for 24 hrs (Chacko et al., 2002). Soaking in 0.5% pyridoxine and ascorbic acid increase germination to 60 and 58%, respectively (Umarani et al., 1998). Seed germination is increased by the 3 min hot water treatment (Aswathanarayana et al., 1997).
Germination type  Epigeous (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination percentage  50%. Viable seeds germinate in 14 days (Subramanian et al.,1992; Chacko et al., 2002). Water stress has intermediate inhibitory effect on germination (Saxena et al., 1998). Empty seeds and dormancy are the two factors that prohibit germination of live see
Germination period  10 to 30 days (Rai, 1999; Chacko et al., 2002).
Nursery technique  Seeds are sown in germination trays containing vermiculite or on moist foam sheet. When the seedlings attain 10 cm height, they are potted into polybags of size 20 x 10 cm filled with soil-based potting mixture and kept under shade (Chacko et al., 2002). Nursery soil in polybags after inoculating with 3 cultures of arbuscular mycorrhizas (AM) along with 3 levels of phosphorus fertilizer, produce fast growing and healthier seedlings than uninoculated. Glomus fasciculatum and P at 300 mg/polybag, are efficient and it produce robust seedlings with longer roots and shoots as well as higher dry matter and P uptake (Rajeswari et al., 2001; Valdes et al., 2004). Treatment of NPK also has a positive influence on seedling height, root length, seedling growth and biomass production. Higher doses of the inorganic fertilizers reduce seedling growth (Bhuiyan et al., 2000; Kang-Lihua et al., 2000). Inoculation of seedlings with Frankia or Azospirillum + phosphobacterium + VAM + Frankia increase root and shoot growth. Application of DAP [diammonium phosphate] has positive influence on shoot and root growth, nodulation and nitrogenase activity (Ravichandran and Balasubramanian, 1997; Rajendran et al., 2003). Germination of Casuarina is significantly reduced by encapsulation in sodium alginate (Carvajal et al., 1994). Irrigation with 5000 ppm saline water increase plant height, stem diameter, and fresh and dry weight of stems, branchlets and roots,while 20000 ppm reduce all the vegetative growth parameters (El-Bagoury et al., 1999). However, water extract of C. equisetifolia root has allelopathic effect on seedlings (Lin-WuXing et al., 2005). Potting mixture consisting of sand, soil, compost, burnt rice husk and charcoal in the 30:10:50:5:5 ratio, sand, soil, compost in the ratio of 20:20:60 and sand/mushroom waste at 2:1 ratio produce seedlings with maximum height, collar diameter and dry biomass (Rathore et al., 2004; Savio et al., 1998).
Method of propagation  Seedlings.
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  Negligible. Ants sometimes take away the seeds (Chacko et al., 2002).
Diseases  Eleven fungi were recorded. Epicoccum sp., Fusarium semitectum were important spermoplane fungi (Mohanan and Sharma, 1991; Chacko et al., 2002).
Medicinal properties  The plant is used to treat nervous disorders, diarrhoea and gonorrhoea. An infusion of bark is used as a remedy for cough, asthma and diabetes. The bark is astringent and used in diarrhoea and dysentery (Bose et al., 1998). Extracts from Casuarina equisetifolia have antioxidant activity (Zulaica-Villagomez et al., 2005). Casuarina equisetifolia has anticancer activity (Halos, 2004). Aqueous and methanol extracts of Casuarina equisetifolia have antibacterial activity against 5 medically important bacterial strains (Jigna-Parekh et al., 2005). Ethanolic extracts of Casuarina equisetifolia has antimicrobial activity against drug-resistant bacteria and a yeast Candida albicans of clinical origin (Solomon, 1998). Reported to be astringent, diuretic, ecbolic, emmenagogue, laxative, and tonic, beefwood is a remedy for beri-beri, colic, cough, diarrhoea, dysentery, headache, nerves, pimples, sores, sorethroat, stomachache, swellings, and toothache (Duke and Wain, 1981). In Ternate, the seeds are used for passing blood in diarrhoea (Burkill, 1966). Asparagine and glutamine accounted for 92% of the total amino acid in the nodules. The bark contains 10% catchol tannin, the root 15%
Uses  Reared as a wind break in sports ground and land scapes. Widely planted on the coastline of the subcontinent and in Sri Lanka to reclaim sand dunes and check erosion. It is one of the best fuelwoods of the world (Sahni, 2000). The bark is used for tanning and the tree yields a resin (Bose et al., 1998). Extracts from Casuarina equisetifolia has antioxidant activity (Zulaica-Villagomez et al., 2005). With plants spaced 2 m apart, on a 7-10 year rotation, the trees may yield 75-200 MT wood/ha, i.e., 10-20 MT/ha/yr. It fixes 58-229 kg/ha/yr nitrogen and 1,742 nmoles C2H4/24 hrs/g dry weight (Aspiras, 1981).
Wood properties  Wood reddish brown, very hard, much liable to split and crack (Gamble, 1922). Wood yields a good pulp with the neutral sulphite semichemical process. The wood is used for beams, boatbuilding, electric poles, fences, furniture, gates, house posts, mine props, oars, pavings, pilings, rafters, roofing shingles, tool handles, wagon wheels, and yokes (CSIR, 1948-1976).
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