Kampala Tree and Palm Directory

Tree Species
Common Name
Tree Description
Tree Uses

English:Pongamia,Pongam, Karum tree, Indian beech, Poonga-oil-tree, Oil tree, Seashoremempari, Pongam oil tree.

+ Tree Species

Millettia pinnata

+ Tree Family


+ Ecology

Pongamia is native to Asia and Australia and is found in cultivation in a large number of countries.It is native to humid and sub-tropic environments; common along waterways or seashores, with its roots in fresh or saltwater. It is very tolerant of saline conditions and alkalinity, and occurs naturally in lowland forest on limestone and rocky coral outcrops on the coast, along the edges of mangrove forest and along tidal streams and rivers.It is a shade bearer and can grow under the shade of other trees; it is, however, not a shade demander and grows well even with full overhead light. It is also drought resistant and well adapted to adverse climatic conditions and soil moisture conditions; prolonged drought may however kill seedlings. In its natural habitat, the species tolerates a wide temperature range. Mature trees withstand light frost, waterlogging and tolerate temperatures of up to 500C. In addition to rain, trees require a dry season of 2-6 months.The tree is planted in the humid tropical and subtropical lowlands around the world as a pioneer and soil reclamation plant. In Kampala, Pongamia can be found along Nyanza crescent among other places. In Kampala, Pongamia can be found along Nyanza crescent among other places.

+ Description

Pongamia is a medium-sized, evergreen or briefly deciduous, glabrous shrub or tree with a broad crown of spreading or drooping branches. It usually grows 15 - 25 meters tall, with a straight or crooked bole 50 - 80 cm or more in diameter.

BARK: grey-brown, smooth or faintly vertically fissured. Branchlets hairless with pale stipule scars.

LEAVES: alternate, imparipinnate with long slender leafstalk, hairless, pinkish-red when young, glossy dark green above and dull green with prominent veins beneath when mature. Leaflets 5-9, paired except at end, short-stalked, ovate elliptical or oblong, 5-25 x 2.5-15 cm, obtuseacuminate at apex, rounded to cuneate at base, not toothed at the edges, slightly thickened.

FLOWERS: inflorescence raceme-like, axillary, 6-27 cm long, bearing pairs of strongly fragrant flowers; calyx campanulate, 4-5 mm long, truncate, finely pubescent. Flower clusters at base of and shorter than leaves, to 15 cm long, slender, drooping. Flowers 2-4 together, short-stalked, pea-shaped, 15-18 mm long. Calyx campanulate, 4-5 mm long, truncate, finely pubescent; corolla white to pink, purple inside, brownish veined outside, 5- toothed, standard rounded obovate 1-2 cm long, with basal auricles, often with green central blotch and thin silky hairs on back; wings oblong, oblique, slightly adherent to obtuse keel.

FRUITS: Pods borne in quantities, smooth, oblique oblong to ellipsoid, 3-8 x 2-3.5 x 1-1.5 cm, flattened but slightly swollen, slightly curved with short, curved point (beaked), brown, thick-walled, thick leathery to subwoody, hard, indehiscent, 1-2 seeded, short stalked. Seed compressed ovoid or elliptical, bean-like, 1.5-2.5 x 1.2-2 x 0.8 cm, with a brittle coat long, flattened, dark brown, oily.

+ Uses

Medicine: seed oils, seeds, flowrs, leaves, fresh stem bark, and root bark. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php id=Pongamia+pinnata

Agroforestry: preferred species for controlling soil erosion and binding sand dunes, an ideal candidate for recovering a variety of wastelands such as saline soil reclamation, used in reforestation of marginal land, provides shade in pastures, grown as a windbreak and shade provider for tea plantation, incorporation of leaves and the presscake into soils improves fertility, decomposed flowers are valued as rich nutrition for special plants, especially when grown in greenhouses, leafy twigs are used for green manuring rice paddies, sugarcane fields and coffee plantations, used as a host for the hemiparasitic sandalwood, Santalum album, fixes nitrogen in the soil, leaves can be eaten by animals, presscake (seed residue) after oil extraction can be used as a sole animal feed, used in apiculture (flowers are considered a good source of pollen for honeybees)

The bark fiber is made into string, twine or rope.

The roots yield a natural pigment called 'pinnatin'.

The wood ash is employed in dyeing.

The seed contains 27 - 40% of a thick, yellow or reddish-brown oil which is used as a lubricant, varnish, water-paint binder and in soap making.

The presscake, when applied to the soil, is valued as a pesticide, particularly against nematodes. The dried leaves can be stored with grain to repel insects.

The wood is used for cabinet making, cartwheels, posts, agricultural implements, tool handles and combs.

The wood is also suitable as a source of pulp for paper making.

Pongamia is commonly used as a fuel wood

An ornamental tree.

+ Propagation

Seed, cuttings (Stem and branch cuttings), root suckers.

+ Management

Fast-growing. Trees coppice well and can also be pollarded. When planted as a shade or ornamental tree, pruning may be necessary to obtain a trunk of appropriate height. The spacing adopted in avenue planting is about 8 m between plants. In block plantings, the spacing can range from 2 x 2 m to 5 x 5 m.

+ Remarks

Pongamia pinnata is the synonym of Milletia pinnata. A multipurpose tree, it is particularly valued for its oil and also supplies dyestuff, wood, fuel, insect repellent, medicines and various other commodities. Pongamia pinnata is being cultivated for the seed oils which are used in biofuels.

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