Saturday, September 19, 2009

Albizia falcataria (Tamil : Kattumaram)

Name of the Tree - Albizia falcataria (Tamil : Kattumaram)
Legume Family ; Leguminosae (Mimosoideae)

Albizia falcataria is one of the fastest-growing trees in the world. It is widely planted in tropical countries including India.

In Kanyakumari District of Tamilnadu, India, it is called
'Kattumaram' since it is used for making catamarans and boats. There, it is highly regarded as shade tree for Pepper, Clove and Coffee plantations. Growers call it as 'Albizia' also, although the term refers to other varieties such as:

Albizia amara (Tamil: Usilamaram)
Albizia lebbeck, East Indian Walnut
(Tamil:Vagai) and
Albizia odoratissima (Tamil:Sila Vagai)
( In Tamil 'Dalbergia paniculata' is also called as Vagai but the correct term is 'Pani vagai')

Albizia is a genus of about 150 species of mostly fast-growing subtropical and tropical trees. Scientific name can be spelled with double 'z' also.

Albizia falcataria is a large deciduous tree 24 to 30m tall, with a thin, very broad crown of dull green foliage often umbrella shaped, with numerous small leaflets (the specific name, "falcate" or "curved like a sickle" refers to the leaflets) and narrow, flat brown seed pods that split open easily under favorable conditions.

These lightweight seedpods contain abundant seeds, which are easily blown by winds. Hence, the tree regenerates so easily by this way of natural seeding on any clearing and becoming naturalized. It is considered as 'invasive pest' in some areas because of its easy spreading and germination quality.

Altitudinal range 0 to 1200 metres MSL.
Rainfall regime - Uniform Dry season: 3 months
Mean Annual Temp. 28 - 34F

Soil: Tree is adaptable to medium texture soil with good drainage facility. Grows best on deep, well-drained fertile soils, such as friable clay loam. Does better on alkaline than acid soils; not suited to dry sands. Growth is very fast under moist soil conditions.

Nursery: Seeds per Kilogram 38,000 to 44,000
Seeds storage limit: Airtight for up to one year
Germination and growth: Germinates in 2 to 5 days. Nursery raised plants will attain plantable size in 4 to 6 months.

Spacing: Recommended tree spacing is 10' x 10' @ 400 trees approx./acre so that trunk grows straight and the crown closes quickly, shading out weeds. But in my view,
the above mentioned closer spacing will create problems like root and canopy competition in fertile soils with good irrigation potential. So, a safer spacing plan should be a min of 15' x 15' for bulk planting and 10' for border planting

It is a strong light-demanding tree.

Coppice capability: The trees coppice vigorously and can be harvested in plantations on a 12 - 15 year cycle from coppice growth. (There are records of 8 year cycles also.) They are shallow-rooted and very susceptible to uprooting and breakage of branches by strong winds.

'N' fixing capacity: Nodules of N-fixing bacteria occur on the roots.

Silviculture: A well-grown tree will attain 24 - 30 meters in height. Growth records of this tree in good soil and high rainfall are as much as 5m in height in a year, 10m in 3 years, 15m in 4 years and 30m in 12 years.

In the plains, the most vigorous trees increased in trunk diameter about 4 - 6cm per year. Trees 2 years old may attain 15 cm DBH, while 10-year old trees may attain and 60 cm DBH. (Diameter in Breast Height.)

Production: Normal production Volume is 10 cu.metres. But, young plantations have yielded mean annual increment of 30 m3/yr in 12–15 yr rotations assuming 70% survival and establishment at 3 x 3 m.

Timber: Heartwood light brown with a slight pinkish or yellowish tinge; not clearly demarcated from the sapwood. Saws well but growth stresses often cause pinching of the blade. Sharp tools are required to cut this soft wood cleanly. The timber dries rapidly with little or no degrades.

Density. Lightweight with S.G: 0.30 - 0.46,

Natural durability of the timber: The wood is not durable and is vulnerable to attack by termites and powder-post beetles. Lumber stains rather rapidly.
Even though Albizia falcataria has many uses, this fast-growing hardwood plantation tree is not fully utilized because of problems such as warpage, cracking, bending, and its low durability.

Uses: It is a promising source of pulpwood. Rated excellent for plywood, fiberboard and particle-board. Used for veneer core stock pallets, boxes, crates, furniture components, matches and for the construction of catamarans / boats.
There is a good demand for this timber all through the year because of its many uses.

For content source and pictures visit: Albizia falcataria


Vishnu Sankar

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