Pterocarpus marsupium

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Pterocarpus marsupium is one of the largest trees of deciduous forests. Highly branched (spreading) crown is its characteristic feature. Reddish gum is seen flowing through the timber. It attains a height of about 30 m and diameter of about 2 ½ m. Grown in steep hill slopes and plain areas. In Kerala, it is found in regions located about 1070 m above sea level. Even though they grow in almost all types of soil, good drainage is essential. Regions having rainfall 75-200 cm is best suited. This light dependent tree becomes frost sensitive during the later stages of growth.

 

Artificial propagation

Artificial propagation is by seeds. Seeds are collected from full grown trees and soaked in cold water for about 2-3 days before sowing. Germination stars with in 10-15 days.Seedlings of 10cm height are transplanted in polythene bags filled with potting mixture. Bagged seedlings are kept under partial shade in nursery. One kg of seed lot contains about 1000 seeds.

 

Natural regeneration

Natural propagation is by seeds. In the seedling stage, shade is necessary. Protecting trees from animals and fire and also ploughing the soil enhances natural propagation


Planting and management

Site preparation includes ploughing the land and making 30 cm cube pits before the onset of monsoon. Pits are filled with red soil and 5 kg FYM. Planting is done at a spacing of 4m x 4m along with south west monsoon. Fertilizer mixture of 60-70gN, 50-60g P2O5, 50-70g K2O along with 25-30 kg FYM per plant is recommended from 2nd or 3rd year onwards. In the seedling stage shading is necessary. Lateral branches are pruned from third year onwards.


Plant protection
The fungi, Polyporus gilvus,Ganoderma lucidum, Fomes fastuvosue etc are commonly found to infect this tree. Common fungicides can be used to prevent their attack.

 

Timber
Sapwood is pale white. Yellowish brown heartwood possess dark lines. 1 m3 timber weighs about 800 kg. The timber is highly durable upto or more than 20-22 years. Drying of timber in sun light, after soaking in water for about 6 weeks is effective in improving durability and also useful for removing stains.


Uses
This tree is best suited for agroforestry and social forestry. Used as a shade tree in the tea and coffee plantations of South India. Gum-keno obtained from Pterocarpus is used for dyeing, printing, tanning etc. Leaves are used as cattle feed and green manure. Flowers and bark have medicinal properties also.Timber is used for the manufacture of posts, buildings, beams, furniture, boat, agricultural instruments etc.

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