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  Swietenia macrophylla King
Vernacular name  Valia Mahogany, Mahogany (Malayalam), Mahogany (Tamil) (Chacko et al., 2002).
Common name  Honduras mahogany, Large - leaved Mahogany (Chacko et al., 2002).
Synonyms  Swietenia belizensis Lundell, S. candollei Pittier, S. krukovii Gleason, S.tessmanii Harms (Chacko et al., 2002).
Family  Meliaceae
Distribution  The tree is a native to Mexico and South America and it was introduced in India from Honduras in 1872. In India, it is found in W.Bengal, Orissa, Maharashtra, Bihar. It is also grown in most tropical countries for the showy appearance and hard wood of good quality but less valuable than Spanish mahogany (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002).
Description  Moderately fast growing very large deciduous tree, attaining a height of 40 m and a breast height diameter of 127 cm with stout branches (Chacko et al.,2002).
Flowering season  April to May (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruiting season  December - January, September to October (Bose et al., 1998) February to April (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002).
Flowers  Inconspicuous white flowers in small open clusters. Flowers greenish white, about 8 mm across, in axillary paniculate cymes; petals oblong; staminal tube whitish; disc bright red (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruits  Fruit is a woody capsule ovoid - oblong, up to 15 cm long, erect (Bose et al., 1998; Chacko et al., 2002).
Fruit type  Capsule.
Seeds  Flat winged brown seeds are arranged on the central axis of the bulbous capsule (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed length  8.3 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed width  2.5 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  1,600 to 2,300 seeds/kg (Mayhew and Newton, 1998; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed dispersal 
Seed Collection  Mature fruits turning grey grain to brown are collected from the trees before they dehisce (Tompsett and Kemp, 1996; Mayhew and Newton, 1998; Chacko et al., 2002).
Transportation of seeds  Capsules are dehisced and seeds are transported in closed containers maintained cool above 2oC. Moist material should be ventilated (Tompsett and Kemp, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed processing  The fruits are sun dried until they open and the seeds are extracted by hand (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed storage  Orthodox (Tompsett and Kemp, 1996); Intermediate (Kindt et al., 1997; Hong and Ellis, 1998; Chacko et al., 2002). Seeds possess intermediate seed storage behaviour - the viability of seeds could be maintained for >2 years in the polyethylene bags at 10oC (Pukittayacamee et al., 1995).
Viability period  Under normal conditions, It is viable up to 3 months (Mayhew and Newton, 1998; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed emptiness  Low (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed pre treatment  No pretreatment is required. De-winging before sowing is beneficial (Chacko et al.,2002).
Germination type  Hypogeal (FRI, 1981; Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination percentage  90 (Luna,1996; Chacko et al., 2002) to 95 (Mayhew and Newton, 1998; Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination period  10 (Sen Gupta, 1937; FRI, 1981) to 112 days (Mayhew and Newton, 1998; Chacko et al., 2002).
Nursery technique  Seeds are sown horizontally to a depth of 2 cm in germination trays containing vermiculite. The seedlings are transferred when they attain a height of 15 cm to polythene bags of 22.5 x 17.5 cm size filled with soil or root trainers. The seedlings are ready for planting 3 months after potting (Abdul Kader et al., 2001; Chacko et al., 2002).
Method of propagation  By seeds.
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  Low infestation by an unidentified caterpillar in fallen fruits. The shoot and fruit borer, Hypsipyla rubusta Moore is a serious pest of fruits also (Beeson, 1941; Chacko et al., 2002).
Diseases  Low to high (6.5 to 99.5%). Thirty two fungi belonging to 24 genera, bacteria and actinomycetes are recorded on seeds. Aspergillus spp. are the important storage moulds. Species of Helminthosporium, Alternaria, Drechslera and Curvularia are the important field fungi recorded on seeds (Chacko et al., 2001).
Medicinal properties 
Uses  Wood is favoured for high-value of furniture and interior fittings. The seed oil is considered to be useful for moderate drying oil and for soapmaking. It is also grown as an ornamental tree for the showy appearance (Bose et al., 1998).
Wood properties  Wood light, moderately hard. Pores small, scanty. Paler in colour than that of Mahogany. Not as good too. Medullary rays fine, the distance between them about equal to the diameter of the pores. Occasional concentric bands of light tissue, some of which may be annual rings (Gamble, 1922).
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