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  Chloroxylon swietenia DC.
Vernacular name  Mootanari, Varimaram, Purushu (Malayalam), Porasu (Tamil), Bhirra (Hindi) (Chacko et al., 2002).
Common name  Satin wood, Indian satin wood, (Chacko et al.,2002; Gamble, 1922); Bhirra.
Synonyms  Swietenia chloroxylon Roxb. (Chacko et al., 2002; Gamble, 1922).
Family  Flindersiaceae
Distribution  Common in the dry deciduous forests of the Western Peninsular India. It is also found in Sri Lanka (Luna, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002).
Description  Moderately fast growing, small to medium sized deciduous tree attaining a height of 20 m and a breast height diameter of 80 cm, young branches, petioles and inflorescence clothed with short, grey, pubescent (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002).
Flowering season  March to April (Bourdillon, 1908).
Fruiting season  May to August; Fruits ripen in June (Bourdillon 1908); March to August (Sen Gupta, 1937; Chacko et al., 2002).
Flowers  Flowers green coloured, bisexual, small, 5-merous, in terminal and axillary panicles; calyx deeply lobed; stamens 10, inserted outside the disc; ovary 3-celled, ovules 8 in each cell (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruits  Capsules oblong (2.5-4.5 cm long), coriaceous, dark brown when ripe; coriaceous, 3-valved.
Fruit type  Capsule.
Seeds  Seeds brown, with a broad wing at one end; about 4 in each cell.
Seed length  2 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed width  1 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  1344 to 3111 seeds/kg (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed dispersal  Wind.
Seed Collection  The mature capsules are collected from the tree before dehiscence (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Chacko et al., 2002).
Transportation of seeds  The capsules are collected in cotton bags. Care should be taken to see that the seeds are not blown away from the bags during transport (Chacko et al.,2002).
Seed processing  The capsules are sun dried, to release the seeds (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed storage  No information. Seed loses viability quickly. The seeds should be stored in a clean dry place in gunny bags (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Chacko et al., 2002).
Viability period  No information (Chacko et al.,2002).
Seed emptiness  Low (Chacko et al.,2002).
Seed pre treatment  Not required (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination type  Hypogeal (Chacko et al.,2002).
Germination percentage  41 to 73 (Chacko et al.,2002).
Germination period  10 to 17 days (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Chacko et al., 2002).
Nursery technique  Seeds are sown by broadcasting in open nursery beds and lightly covered with soil. Seedlings are delicate and require shade in first few months (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Chacko et al., 2002).
Method of propagation  Direct sowing and seedling transplantation. Also, it has a great power of regeneration often reproducing itself by root suckers.
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  No information (Chacko et al.,2002).
Diseases  Low (Chacko et al.,2002).
Medicinal properties  The bark is used as an astringent. The leaves are applied to wounds and also prescribed in rheumatism (Bose et al., 1998).
Uses  The tree yield reddish brown gum and a yellow dye. The wood yields an essential oil. It is also used as bridge, in house construction, for ploughs, oil mills, pestles, cart shafts, axels, naves, felloes and spokes (Chacko et al., 2002). The bark contains tannin. Bark has medicinal value.
Wood properties  The timber is durable and it is not liable to insect and fungus attack. The wood varies in colour from pale yellow to golden yellow with satin lustre. There is no distinct heartwood but the central portion of the logs is somewhat darker than the outer portion. The wood has faint sweet odour when fresh. Wood very hard, yellow or cream coloured. The inner wood darker, but without a distinct heartwood; having a fine satiny lustre. Annual rings distinct. Pores very small and rays very short (Bourdillon, 1908).
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