Dalbergia latifolia - Rosewood

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Rose wood is an important timber yielding tree of South India. It is the costliest timber in the world trade. It varies in size according to locality and attains its maxi mum growth in the southern region of Western Ghats. It reaches to a maximum height of 40 m and a girth of 6.0 m. Uncontrolled felling caused the widespread removal of rose wood from our forests.


Artificial Propagation
Propagation is possible both by direct sowing and by planting seedlings, root suckers and sections of lateral roots. Stump planting of nursery seedlings is favoured, particularly in the west coast. Mature pods are collected from the trees during November-December. For direct sowing it is advisable to break the pods into one seeded parts. It can be stored up to 6 months after sun drying. Seed weight is 18000 seeds/kg. Soaking in cold water for 24 hours before sowing will result in 80 per cent germination. Instead of direct sowing, nursery raised seedling or stumps are also used to raise plantations. Seeds are sown in raised nursery beds during rainy season. Seeds start germinating within one week. The beds are regularly watered and weeded. One year old seedlings are used to prepare stumps. Stumps are prepared by pruning shoots having a diameter of more than 3 cm and roots at a length of 30 cm. Seedlings of 30cm tall, 3cm collar diameter, 30-40 leaves, 10-15cm root length are normally transplanted. Through tissue culture, good planting materials can be produced which was proved by the research work carried at the Kerala Agricultural University, College of Forestry. During initial years, the seedlings should be protected from weeds, cattle and fire.


Natural regeneration
Under natural conditions, regeneration by seeds and root suckers takes place. Wind dispersed seeds will germinate in the early part of the rainy season. The conditions favourable for seed germination and seedling growth are moderate shade, loose and fairly moist soil. For the further development of saplings overhead light is necessary. The seedlings should be protected from fire, weeds and cattle. The tree produces a large number of root suckers from its long, horizontal, superficial root branches. Root suckers can also be used for propa gation.Wounding of roots by digging around trees stimulates root sucker production.

 

Planting and stand management

Saplings of rosewood can be planted in pits of 30cm cube made at a spacing of 5x5m. Pits are taken before the onset of monsoon and filled with 5 Kg of FYM and top soil. Initial growth of tree is found to be relatively low. Even though habitat is deciduous, it is evergreen in the moist zone of its distribution. In dry areas it shed leaves during February-March and then flushes soon. White flowers will be produced during January-February. Fruit will start developing during March and takes 7-8 months to mature. It is drought resistant. It stands a fair amount of shade, especially when young, but benefits greatly by overhead light. In too open situations, it tends to become crooked and branchy. Though it can withstand fire, fire protection measures are beneficial for the economic development of Indian rose wood forests. The growth of the tree is very slow . It thrives best on well drained, deep, moist soil, particularly in the neighbourhood of perennial streams. Weeding particularly during the early stages are recommended. Depending up on the age and size, about 50-70g of N.,30-50 g P2O 5 and 30-50g K2O along with 30 Kg of FYM per plant is applied from second year onwards during monsoon.

 

Plant protection
Fungi belonging to the genus Polystictus, Schizophyllum, Trametes etc. produce rot diseases. Damping off disease by phytophthora is also common particularly in nursery which can be controlled by carbendazim 0.05 per cent. Pests of Coccidae and Membracidae family also attack these plants. Shoot webber Atteva sp and defoliator Eligma is seen in some places which can be controlled by Quinalphos 0.05 per cent.

 

Timber 
The sapwood is narrow and pale yellowish white in colour, often with a purple tinge. The heart wood ranges in colour from golden brown through shades of light rose, purple with darker streaks to deep purple with rather distinct black lines, darkening with age. It is fragrant, heavy, narrowly interlocked grained and medium coarse textured. The timber is stronger and much harder than teak and has a slightly higher elastic limit than Burma teak. Harvesting is done after 60-70 years. One cubic meter wood weighs about 880 kg.


Uses
Indian rosewood ranks among the finest woods for furniture and cabinet work. It is also a valuable decorative wood suitable for carving and ornamental ply boards and veneers. It is used for making windows, doors, agricultural implements etc. It is grown in coffee plantations as a shade tree. The bark of the tree contains tannin. Parts of the tree are reported to be useful as stimulant and appetiser and also used for the treatment of dyspepsia, diarrhoea, leprosy, obesity etc. Leaves are used as fodder. It increases the soil nitrogen content. So it is use in agro forestry and social forestry programmes.

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