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  Dalbergia sissoo Roxb. ex DC.
Vernacular name  Sisham, Irupul (Malayalam), Sissu itti, Mukko-gette (Tamil), Shisham, Sissoo Sissu, Sissai (Hindi) (Chacko et al., 2002).
Common name  Sissoo, Sisham (Chacko et al., 2002).
Synonyms  Amerimnon sissoo (Roxb.ex DC.) Kuntze (Chacko et al., 2002).
Family  Leguminosae
Subfamily  Faboideae
Distribution  Throughout the Sub-Himalayan tracts up to 900 m. It is widely used for afforestation except the coldest, wettest and driest parts (FRI, 1983; Chacko et al., 2002). It is planted in Kerala, as an avenue tree (Chacko et al., 2002).
Description  Fast growing large deciduous trees, of over 30 m heigh and a breast height diameter of 86 cm (FRI, 1983; Chacko et al., 2002).
Flowering season  March / April (Sahni, 2000).
Fruiting season  Ripens during November to January; November to March (Sen Gupta, 1937; Chacko et al.,2002). October to November (Bose et al., 1998).
Flowers  Yellow flowers in axillary panicle of short racemes, fragrant, about 8 mm long; stamens 9, monadelphous (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruits  Long pods 5 to 7.5 cm long, linear-lanceolate, flat, strap-shaped, pale-brown, glabrous, indehiscent, 1 to 4 seeded (Sahni, 2000).
Fruit type  Pod.
Seeds  Seeds 1 to 4, reniform, thin, flat and light-brown coloured with a delicate papery testa (Chacko et al., 2002). Medium seeds perform better in terms of producing larger seedlings (Khera et al., 2004). High quality seeds are those with large size and low electrical conductivity (Yadav et al., 1998).
Seed length  6-8 mm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed width  4-5 mm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  50,000 to 53,000 seeds/kg (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Chacko et al., 2002); 35,000 to 55,000 seeds/kg (Kindt et al., 1997; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed dispersal  Wind.
Seed Collection  Ripe pods are collected from the trees in bags or baskets. The pods may be also beaten off from the trees with sticks to the ground (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Chacko et al., 2002).
Transportation of seeds  No special care is suggested (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed processing  Pods are dried in the sun for 3 to 4 days and stored after removing dead leaves, portion of twigs and other foreign matter (Kumar and Bhanja 1992; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed storage  Orthodox (Kindt et al.,1997; CABI, 1998). Pods are stored in sealed tins, gunny bags or baskets after drying. Viability is rapidly reduced if seed is not dried before storing (FRI, 1983; Chacko et al., 2002). Germination decrease steadily with storage, from 96% at collection time, to 58-68% after 12 months' storage (Dod et al., 1997).
Viability period  Seed is viable for about one year in sealed tins under ambient room temperatures (Luna, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed emptiness  High (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed pre treatment  Soaking the seeds in cold water for 24 hrs improves germination (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Chacko et al., 2002). A seed pretreatment with 5% CMC (carboxy methyl cellulose) medium enhance germination and increase root and shoot growth (Harsh and Ojha, 2000).
Germination type  Epigeous.
Germination percentage  40 (after one year). 90 to 100 (Kumar and Bhanja, 1992; Chacko et al., 2002). Germination of D. sissoo is less dependent, on light quality (Neeraj-Khera and Singh, 2005). Salinity reduces germination period and germinative energy (Rashid et al., 2004). Wa
Germination period  5 to 77 days (Sen Gupta, 1937; Chacko et al., 2002).
Nursery technique  Broken pieces of pods containing seeds are sown in germination trays containing vermiculite in February-March. Too much watering is avoided. Germinated seeds are potted into polythene bags of 20 x 10 cm size filled with soil-based potting mixture (Chacko et al., 2002). Soil, sand and FYM in 1:2:2 and 1:2:1 ratios give growth, dry weight and quality index of seedlings (Pankaj-Tiwari and Saxena, 2003). Seedlings of higher quality can be raised in polyethylene bags kept on MAI beds as compared to those on nursery beds (Mohit-Gera et al., 2005; Singh et al., 2000). D. sissoo seedlings perform well in 20% sand and 80% compost combination also in sand, soil and compost in the ratio 1:1:3, 1:0:4, and pure compost alone. Combinations of charcoal, compost, and rice husk in the ratio 1:3:1 and 1:4:0 also show good growth (Ginwal et al., 2002). Irrespective of the pre-treatment, the seeds sown in sand+clay+FYM (1:1:2) medium show good germination and establishment (Atul, 2002). Sawdust and white quartz media under normal watering at nursery condition are better for germination of D. sissoo seeds (Sagta and Nautiyal, 2001). PK at the rate of 160 kg/ha fertilizer with soil and cowdung mixture (soil:cowdung=3:1) is recommended for optimum growth and nodule formation of D. sissoo in degraded soils at a nursery level (Huda et al., 2007). Presence of nitrogen in soil discourage the formation of nodules (Naugraiya, 2007).
Method of propagation  Seed and grafting (Sinha, 1968).
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  Plaeaoptera reflexa is the defoliator (Ram parkash and Drake Hocking, 1986).
Diseases  Six fungi and a bacteria are recorded. Fusarium sp. and Colletotrichum sp. are seed-borne (Mohanan and Anil Chandran, 2001; Chacko et al., 2002). Root rot is caused by Ganoderma lucidum, root rot and wilt caused by Polyporus gilvus and Fusarium oxysporum, respectively (Khan and Khan, 2000).
Medicinal properties  The oil from seed is applied to cure skin diseases and powered wood is used as a remedy for leprosy and skin eruption. The bark and heartwood are used for the treatment of skin diseases, vomitting, leprosy, scabies, ulcers, dysentery, inflammations and fevers (Prajapati et al., 2003).
Uses  Excellent fuel and best furniture timber, used as shade tree and fertilizer for tea, heartwood is excellent for high class furniture, panelling and general constructional work (Chacko et al., 2002). D. sissoo has isoflavone glycosides (Niwa, 2001). Seed's polyphenol and hydrocarbon content are 7.1% and 1.9%, respectively (Augustus and Seiler, 2001). The wood is used for high class furniture and cabinets, plywood, aircraft and marine plywood, blackboards, construction, doors and ship building.
Wood properties  The sapwood is pale yellow or greyish white sharply demarcated from the heartwood, which is golden brown to deep brown with darker streaks. Annual rings are not distinctly marked. Pores large and moderate sized, scanty, in light coloured irregular patches which are joined by fine, wavy, more or less concentric streaks, which are frequenty interrupted often very oblique; well defined on a longitudinal section, often filled with resin. Medullary rays pale, very fine uniform, equidistant, and numerous (Gamble, 1922).
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