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(Cambodia) : pongro
(Filipino) : gum-lac tree
(French) : pongro
(Indonesian) : kasambi (Sundanese)
(Lao (Sino-Tibetan)) : (do:k) phen (Spire)
(Malay) : kusambi
(Thai) : takhro (north-eastern)
(Vietnamese) : c[aa]y van rao
Dioecious, deciduous tree, up to 40 m tall. Bole occasionally up to 2 m in diameter, but generally much less, usually crooked and slightly buttressed. Bark smooth, grey. Branches terete, striate, with sparse, short fulvous sericeous hairs when young and with sessile glands, black, later yellowish-brown to ashy. Leaves parinnate, (2-)3(-4)-jugate, the topmost leaflet sometimes situated like a terminal leaflet; axial parts usually early glabrescent; petiole terete to somewhat flattened or slightly grooved above, 2-6(-8) cm long, pulvinate; rachis terete to triangular; petiolule swollen, slightly grooved above, 1-3 mm long; leaflets elliptical to obovate, 4.5-18.5(-25) cm x 2.5-9 cm, chartaceous to coriaceous, dark brown or greyish-green above, lighter brown to greenish beneath, deep purple when young, base subacute to cuneata, often oblique, margin entire to repandous, apex obtuse or emarginate, sometimes shortly acuminate, veins in 12-15 pairs, looped and joined near the margin. Inflorescence 6-15 cm long, situated in the defoliated part of branchlets above leaf scars, sometimes axillary, consisting of a few simple (female) or sparsely branched (male) thyrses, the basal part with scattered, many-flowered fascicles, the upper part spicate, sparsely hairy; flowers functionally unisexual, pale yellow or pale green; pedicel up to 5 mm long; sepals 4-5, connate at base, lobes ovate to deltoid, about 1.5 mm long, obtuse to acute, with thin hairs on both sides, margin ciliate and sometimes glandular, deciduous in fruit; disk uninterrupted, petelliform, sinuate; petals absent; stamens 5-9, filaments about 2 mm long, sparsely hairy, much reduced in female flowers; ovary ovoid, slightly 3-angular and indistinctly 3-sulcate, about 1.3 mm long, style rather thick, up to 1.5 mm long, pistil much reduced in male flowers. Fruit a broadly ovoid, ellipsoid to subglobular berry, 1-2 seeded, 1.5-2.5 cm x 1-2 cm, base narrowed, apex pointed, yellow, hard-crustaceous, smooth or slightly spiny. Seed subglobular, about 12 mm x 10 mm x 8 mm, hilum orbicular, testa brown, smooth, glabrous; arillode completely covering the seed, thin papery, yellow.
Ecology and distributionHistory of cultivation
Occurs naturally from the foothils of the Himalayas and the western Deccan to Sri Lanka and Indo-China. It was probably introduced to Malesia and has naturalized in Indonesia (Java, the Lesser Sunda Islands (Bali and Nusa Tenggara), Sulawesi, the Moluccas, Ceram and the Kai Islands). It is occasionally cultivated throughout the tropics, especially in India.
S. oleosa occurs spontaneously in dry, mixed deciduous forest and savanna with only scattered trees, sometimes gregariously. In Java, it is found in areas with natural teak forest. It grows on rather dry to occasionally swampy locations on various, often rocky, gravelly or loamy, well drained, preferable slightly acid soil. S.oleosa is fire-resistant. Seedling are frost sensitive and light-demanding.
Occurs naturally from the foothils of the Himalayas and the western Deccan to Sri Lanka and Indo-China. It was probably introduced to Malesia and has naturalized in Indonesia (Java, the Lesser Sunda Islands (Bali and Nusa Tenggara), Sulawesi, the Moluccas, Ceram and the Kai Islands).
Biophysical limitsAltitude: In Java, it occurs usually at low altitudes, but can be found up to 900(-1200) m; Annual rainfall: 750-2500 mm and dry season; Absolute maximum temperatures: 35-47.5 de. C; Absolute minimum temperatures: -2.5 deg. C.
S. oleosa is deciduous, but completely leafless for a few days only. In India, leaves drop in December. S. oleosa flowers at the beginning of the dry season and fruits about 6 months later.
Propagation and managementPropagation methodsNatural regeneration is by seed and root suckers. Propagation is by direct sowing in thoroughly prepared soil or by stump planting. In nurseries in West Bengal (India), seed is sown 7.5 cm apart immediately after collection. Stumps are prepared after one year, when the seedling stem is about 1 cm in diameter. The stem is cut back to about 4 cm, the roots to 25 cm. Plant holes should be about 30 cm deep and wide. Regular weeding and protection from grazing is required.
Husbandry: In cultivation, it does not stand heavy prunning, since growth is rather slow. When S. oleosa is employed as a host for lac insects in northern India, trees are inoculated early in the rainy season (June-July) or in January-February. Shoots of 4-10 months old are most suitable for larval settlement. Lac is harvested after about 6 months. Only trees with a fully developed crown produce a good yield of lac. Trees can be improved by heavy pollarding. Trees should be rested for 12-18 months before being reinoculated.
Seed can be stored in gunny bags for 1 year, in sealed containers for up to 2 years. The weight of 1000 seeds is 500-700 g.
Functional usesProductsFodder: Leaves, twigs and seed-cake are used to feed cattle. Food: The pleasantly acid arillodes of the ripe seeds are eaten, whereas immature fruit is pickled. Cooked young leaves make a side dish. Fuel: The wood is suitable as firewood and makes excellent charcoal. Lipids: Oil extracted from the seed, called 'kusum oil', is a valuable component of true Macassar oil used in hairdressing; it is also used for culinary and lighting purpose and in traditional medicine it is applied to cure itching, acne and other skin afflictions. Unguents are made of the harder fraction of the oil. In Madura and Java the oil is used in the batik industry, and in southern India as a cooling bath oil. Medicine: Powdered seeds are applied to wounds and ulcers of cattle to remove maggots. The bark is astringent and used against skin imflammations and ulcers, while an infusion is taken against malaria. Tannin or dyestuff: A dye and tannin are obtained from the bark. Tannin used to be utilised occasionally for tanning leather. Timber: The pinkish-brown heartwood is very hard and durable, execellent to make pestles, cartwheels, axles, ploughs, tool handles and rollers of sugar mills and oil presses. Other products: In India, it is used as host for the lac insect (Laccifer lacca). The product is called kusum lac and is the best in quality and in yield.
Ornamental: In Central India, it is much planted as a wayside tree.
Pests and diseasesDiseases: Stem blight (Rosellinia bunodes), yellow cork rot (Polyporus weberianus), white spongy rot (Daedalea flavida and Hexagonia apiaria) and white fibrous rot (Irpex flavus) are important diseases in India. Pests: Several defoliators, borers and sap suckers cause damage. The seed is attacked by a bug (Serinetha augur).
Additional InformationDevelopmentS. oleosa produces root suckers freely and pollards well. In Bihar (India), trees grow to a height of about 7 m and a stem diameter of 10 cm in 16 years; in Uttar Pradesh (India) coppice shoots reach a height of 2 m in 1 year, in South Kanara (India) 5 m in 3 years.
Fuel: The energy value of the wood is about 20 800 kJ/kg. Fodder: The leaves contain per 100 g dry matter appoximately: crude protein 10.5 g, ether extract 2 g, N-free extract 49 g, crude fibre 32.5 g. Timber: The heartwood of S. oleosa is pinkish-brown, very hard and durable, but cracks very easly during seasoning. To avoid cracking, logs should be sawn when green and the sawn timber closely stacked; the piles should be protected from the sun and from drying wind. The wood can be kiln-dried satisfactorily. The wood is very durable under cover, but not durable when exposed. It takes preservatives well. Dry wood is very hard to saw, it can be planed to a very smooth surface which takes a high, lasting polish. Lipids: The oil content of the kernel varies from 59-72%. The oil is yellowish-brown and semi-solid and consists of oleic acid (52%), arachidic acid (20%), stearic acid (10%), gadoleic acid (9%). It also contains cyanogenic compounds, which may cause giddiness and should be removed if the oil is used for human consumption. Tannin or dyestuff and Medicine: The bark contains about 10% tannin and the analgesic compound lupeol and the antitumor agents betulin and betulic acid have been isolated from it. Food: The press cake contains per 100 g approximately : water 5.5 g, protein 22 g, fat 49 g, carbohydrates 14 g, fibre 5 g, ash 3.5 g.
Yield: In India, a mature tree yields 21-28 kg depulped seed per year. Handling after harvest : For depulping, fruits are kept in heaps for 2-4 days and are then rubbed clean. After crushing the depulped seed, the oil is extracted by boiling or pressing. The oil yield obtained by boiling is 32-35 % of the kernel weight, by pressing 25-27 %. Raw lac is harvested with the branches as stick-lac. It is washed, dried and winnowed to yield a granular substance called seed-lac.
Where wild S. oleosa occurs abundantly, it remains important as a fuelwood, but its growth is too slow to be planted for fuel. Where seed is available in large amounts, pressing and refining of oil combined with the manufacturing of seed cake as cattle feed may be viable, although the quantity currently processed is well below its potential. As a host of the lac insect, S. oleosa is preferable to other hosts. Depending on demand for natural lac, it may be useful in village industry.
BibliographyIwasa, S., 1997. Schleichera oleosa (Lour.) Oken. In Faridah Hanum, I. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Eds.): Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 11. Auxiliary Plants. Prosea Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia. pp. 227-229.
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