March 21 is declared as the INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FORESTS

Tropical wild almond tree

| February 1, 2015 | 2 Comments

Manoj Kumar Sarcar & Aruna Basu Sarcar

WHILE walking inside Anna – University campus or on the way to IIT, Chennai, during January – February. one can see red blossoms hanging gracefully from tall majestic umbrella like shaded trees. A close look will soon confirm that they are the large attractive fruits, not the flowers.

Botanically, the tree is known as Sterculia foetida; the wild almond or jungli badarn tree was first observed and described by Linneaus, a botanist in 1753. The flowers have a strong offensive smell when they appear in March. Hence the species is called as S. foetida. It belongs to the large family of Sterculiaceae and the genus Sterculia having 200 species of trees and shrubs found throughout the tropics, reaching its best development in tropical Asia. About 20 species are found in India.

It is a large, straight deciduous tree resembling Bombax ceiba in general appearance, with branches arranged in whorls and spreading horizontally. It attains a height upto 40 metres and a girth of five metres. New leaves appear in March – April and after flowering in March, the fruit ripens nearly 11 months after the flowers appear. It grows in the plains and the hills along the West coast from Kankan southwards upto an elevation of 800 metres. It is cultivated in gardens in several parts of India, Outside India, it is fairly distributed in tropical East Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia. Burma and North Australia.

The timber is greyish, white and soft. his easy to saw and work on and fairly durable for interior works, It is used locally for dug-outs, boat planking, carved toy and rough packing cases. The bark yields a fibre suitable for ropes and exudes gum. The seeds contain fixed oil 40 per cent and starch. They have a pleasant taste and are eaten sometimes after roasting. Oil is extracted by boiling the seeds in water. The oil is a mild laxative and is used as a carminative. A decoction of fruit is mucilaginous and astringent. The leaves are repelent and aperient. It is one of the fast growing species.

It needs plenty of light, space and loamy soil with enough moisture for its optimum development. For artificial reproduction seeds can be collected from ripened fruits (turned red to black) soon after their dehisening in trees. The viability of seed is poor. Hence nursery can be raised in poly bags in the same year during March – April. Seedlings grow rapidly forming long tap roots and they can be planted with onset of monsoon without much difficulties. It is one of the good avenue tree which can be planted for aesthetic purpose.

Courtesy: THE HINDU (Sunday, April 12, 1998)

Comments (2)

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  1. DR M V POTDAR says:

    Very informative portal with immense value for creating awareness for conservation of biodiversity.

  2. MANISH KUMAR . says:

    I have planted wild almond in front my house. As of now it is 6 ft tall. Its 4 feet away from home wall. Will its root cause problem for foundation of home.

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