Chukrasia tabularis (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
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List of species


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Geographic coverage Africa Fairytale bookmark gold.svgFairytale bookmark gold.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svg
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distribution in Africa (planted)
1, tree habit; 2, flowering twig; 3, flower in longitudinal section; 4, dehisced fruit. Source: PROSEA
bole (Rimbun Dahan)
bark (Botanypictures)
leafy branch (Rimbun Dahan)
young leaves (Rimbun Dahan)
inflorescence
wood in transverse section
wood in transverse section
wood in tangential section
wood in tangential section
wood in radial section
wood in radial section
transverse surface of wood

Chukrasia tabularis A.Juss.


Protologue: Bull. Sci. Nat. Géol. 23: 241 (1830).
Family: Meliaceae
Chromosome number: 2n = 26

Synonyms

  • Chukrasia velutina (M.Roem.) C.DC. (1878).

Vernacular names

  • Chickrassy, Chittagong wood, Burma almondwood, East Indian mahogany (En).

Origin and geographic distribution

Chukrasia tabularis originates from tropical Asia (from India and Sri Lanka eastwards to Borneo and China). It has been planted in many countries outside tropical Asia, in Africa in Nigeria, Cameroon and northern South Africa, and elsewhere e.g. in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Australia.

Uses

In tropical Asia, especially India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand and southern China, the wood is highly prized for high-grade cabinet work, decorative panelling, interior joinery such as doors, windows and light flooring, and for carving, toys and turnery. It is also used for light to medium-heavy construction work, e.g. for posts, beams, scantlings and planks, and for railway sleepers, ship and boat building, furniture, musical instruments, packing cases, sporting goods, lorry bodies, mallet heads, anvil blocks, brush wares, drawing equipment, rifle butts, veneer and pulp.

A bark extract has powerful astringent properties and is used as a febrifuge and to treat diarrhoea. In India Chukrasia tabularis is planted as a shade tree in coffee plantations, and in Vietnam and Malaysia as an ornamental tree.

Production and international trade

Chukrasia tabularis timber is traded in small amounts and often together with timbers from other Meliaceae genera such as Cedrela and Toona. It may also be marketed under mixed hardwood with a variety of other timbers. In Thailand a production of 3200 m³ was recorded in 1966, increasing to 9800 m³ in 1989, whereas a production of less than 350 m³/year is reported from India. Production in Africa is insignificant.

Properties

The heartwood is pale reddish brown, yellowish red to red, darkening to dark yellowish brown, reddish brown to medium dark brown on exposure, sharply differentiated from the yellowish white, pale yellowish brown, pinkish brown or greyish brown sapwood; dark streaks may be rather prominent. The grain is interlocked and sometimes wavy, texture moderately fine but uneven. Freshly cut wood is fragrant, but dried wood has no characteristic odour or taste. Planed surfaces have a lustrous satiny sheen.

The wood is moderately heavy. The density is 625–880 kg/m³ at 15% moisture content. The rates of shrinkage are rather low: from green to 15% moisture content c. 1.3% radial and 1.7% tangential, from green to oven dry 3.9% radial and 6.0% tangential. Usually the wood dries fairly rapidly without degrade, but a slight tendency to check and warp and some liability to collapse have been reported. Fine hair surface checks may develop when drying thick boards.

The wood is moderately hard. At 15% moisture content, the modulus of rupture is 82–101 N/mm², modulus of elasticity 10,800–14,300 N/mm², compression parallel to grain 47–64 N/mm², compression perpendicular to grain 11–12 N/mm², shear 15–18 N/mm², cleavage c. 60 N/mm radial and 71 N/mm tangential and Janka side hardness 8990–9230 N.

Tests in Malaysia showed that the wood is difficult to saw, cross cut, turn and bore, but easy to plane. It produces a moderately smooth finish, but some picking up of grain may occur on quarter-sawn material during planing and moulding. However, tests in other areas showed that the wood can be easily sawn and machined. It has good nailing and screw-holding properties, it can be stained effectively and polished excellently. The steam bending properties are rated as good. It can be readily peeled and sliced into veneers and these can be glued satisfactorily to produce decorative plywood, fire-retardant treated plywood, and plywood suitable for concrete shuttering and marine construction.

The wood is considered non-durable to moderately durable under exposed conditions. The resistance to termite attack varies from good to poor. The wood is resistant to preservative treatment.

Young leaves and bark have a high tannin content, and the bark yields a reddish gum. A leaf extract has been reported to exhibit considerable antimalarial activity, as well as antibacterial and antifungal activities; the essential oil present in the leaf is responsible for these activities. The oil consists of oxygenated monoterpenes (42.8%, mainly carvacrol, thymol and borneol), phenyl propanoids (25.2%, mainly (E)-methyl isoeugenol and myristicin) and smaller amounts of sesquiterpene hydrocarbons, monoterpene hydrocarbons and oxygenated sesquiterpenes. Root extracts showed antifeedant activity against Spodoptera insects, with phragmalin limonoids (tabulalin and tabulalides A–E) as the active compounds.

Adulterations and substitutes

The wood of Cedrela odorata L. and Toona ciliata M.Roem., both planted in Africa, is similar to that of Chukrasia tabularis, although the mechanical properties of the wood of the former two species are inferior to those of Chukrasia tabularis wood.

Description

  • Deciduous, medium-sized to large tree up to 30(–40) m tall; bole branchless for up to 20(–25) m, with a diameter of up to 120 cm, with convex buttresses up to 1.5 m high or without buttresses; bark surface rusty brown or deep brown, deeply fissured or cracked, with lenticels, inner bark reddish; crown spreading.
  • Leaves alternate, up to 50 cm long, paripinnate with up to 24 leaflets in larger leaves; stipules absent; petiole 4–9 cm long; leaflets alternate, shortly stalked, ovate to oblong, asymmetric, 4–17.5 cm × 2–6.5 cm, apical ones largest, acute to acuminate at apex, entire, glabrous to pubescent, pinnately veined. Inflorescence an axillary panicle, often appearing terminal, up to 30 cm long.
  • Flowers functionally unisexual, regular, 4–5-merous, sweetly scented; pedicel 2–4 mm long; calyx shallowly cup-shaped, c. 3 mm in diameter, with short lobes; petals free, narrowly oblong to spatulate, 1–1.5 cm long, contorted, cream-coloured to yellowish, often tinged pink; stamens 8–10, filaments united into a cylindrical tube, with the anthers attached to the margin; ovary superior, flask-shaped, pubescent, 3– 5-celled, style slender, stigma head-shaped.
  • Fruit an ovoid or ellipsoid capsule (2.5–)3.5–5 cm long, woody, opening by 3–5 valves from the apex, valves splitting into 2 layers, many-seeded.
  • Seeds c. 12 mm long, flat, with large terminal wing.
  • Seedling with epigeal germination; cotyledons leafy; first 2 leaves opposite, subsequent ones arranged spirally, seedling leaves often imparipinnate and bipinnate with incised or lobed leaflets.

Other botanical information

Chukrasia comprises a single, rather variable species. It is distinctive among the genera of the tribe Swietenieae of the subfamily Swietenioideae (to which mahogany (Swietenia) and the important African timber genera Entandrophragma and Khaya also belong), characterized by the comparatively large flowers, the more or less entire stamen tube, and the large number of seeds arranged in layers, alternately ‘head-to-toe’. Molecular phylogenetic studies indicated that Chukrasia is quite distinct from other genera in the tribe and separation from it may be warranted.

Some authors regard Chukrasia velutina (M.Roem.) C.DC. as a species (or variety) distinct from Chukrasia tabularis, being a smaller tree with more fissured bark and harder wood, and more hairy. However, intermediates are common.

Anatomy

Wood-anatomical description (IAWA hardwood codes):

  • Growth rings: 1: growth ring boundaries distinct.
  • Vessels: 5: wood diffuse-porous; 13: simple perforation plates; 22: intervessel pits alternate; (24: intervessel pits minute ( 4 μm)); 25: intervessel pits small (4–7 μm); 30: vessel-ray pits with distinct borders; similar to intervessel pits in size and shape throughout the ray cell; 42: mean tangential diameter of vessel lumina 100–200 μm; (46: 5 vessels per square millimetre); 47: 5–20 vessels per square millimetre; 58: gums and other deposits in heartwood vessels.
  • Tracheids and fibres: 61: fibres with simple to minutely bordered pits; 66: non-septate fibres present; 69: fibres thin- to thick-walled.
  • Axial parenchyma: (78: axial parenchyma scanty paratracheal); 79: axial parenchyma vasicentric; (83: axial parenchyma confluent); 85: axial parenchyma bands more than three cells wide; 89: axial parenchyma in marginal or in seemingly marginal bands; 92: four (3–4) cells per parenchyma strand.
  • Rays: 98: larger rays commonly 4- to 10-seriate; (104: all ray cells procumbent); 106: body ray cells procumbent with one row of upright and/or square marginal cells; 115: 4–12 rays per mm.
  • Mineral inclusions: (136: prismatic crystals present); (142: prismatic crystals in chambered axial parenchyma cells).
(P. Mugabi, A.A. Oteng-Amoako & P. Baas)

Growth and development

In India growth of seedlings proved moderately fast in the first 2 years. After 2 years the plants had reached a height of 1.2–2.1 m, after 3 years 2.8–3.4 m with a bole diameter of 4–5 cm and after 6 years 5.5 m with a bole diameter of 15 cm, indicating a mean annual diameter increment of 2.5 cm. A few trees planted on a deep alluvial soil in northern South Africa were on average 37 m tall and 63 cm in bole diameter 49 years after planting, but on a more shallow soil only 25 m tall and 47 cm in bole diameter 51 years after planting.

Chukrasia tabularis flowers and fruits annually. The trees may start flowering when 5 years old. The winged seeds are dispersed by wind.

Ecology

Under natural conditions in tropical Asia, Chukrasia tabularis is found scattered in lowland evergreen rain forest or deciduous forest up to 900(–1400) m altitude, in areas with an annual rainfall of 1800–3800 mm and mean annual temperature of 14–27°C. It is a light-demanding pioneer species, common in former shifting cultivation areas.

Chukrasia tabularis should not be planted on sites with heavy soil or excessive moisture. An impenetrable soil layer less than 60 cm below soil level may cause failure of plantations.

Propagation and planting

There are 71,000–100,000(–160,000) seeds per kg, and each fruit contains about 700 seeds. Germination is fair to easy, up to 90% in 1–4(–6) weeks. Seeds retain good viability for up to 40 months when stored in a cold room (4°C) or freezer, with a viability rate of 60–80%, but they can also be stored at room temperature. The germination rate in the nursery is generally less and 1 kg of seed gives about 10,000 viable seedlings. The seeds can be separated by threshing sun-dried capsules, and do not require pre-treatment. They are sown in light porous soil with overhead shade or under a mulch cover. Best results have been obtained by raising seedlings in well-drained boxes and pots before transplanting. Watering of seedlings should be sparse because they are sensitive to fungal damping-off. Seedlings are pricked out and transplanted when about 1 month old and 6–8 cm tall. Planting takes place into open conditions. Stump planting is practised in India and China. Stem and root cuttings are also used for planting, and grafting, mainly patch budding, for seed orchards. A method for efficient in vitro regeneration through organogenesis has been developed.

Management

In 1980 a commercial plantation of 25 ha was established in northern South Africa, with good results. The spacing was 5 m × 5 m. Weeding around young trees is necessary at least once a year. Final stocking is about 100 trees/ha. Planting trials in Cameroon were not successful, with trees showing poor adaptation. The trees coppice profusely after cutting.

Diseases and pests

Like many related Meliaceae species, Chukrasia tabularis is attacked by the shoot borer Hypsipyla robusta, but only 40% of the attacked trees develops a malformation or a fork. This is also the case in plantations in Africa. In some countries, e.g. in Laos, the attack of shoot borers discourages plantation development. However, it has been recorded that there is no damage by shoot borers in trees over 8 years old, and some trees show resistance.

Harvesting

In Vietnam the rotation period in plantations for the production of sawlogs is 20–25 years, and the cutting cycle in natural forest in India is 60 years.

Genetic resources

In many regions in tropical Asia where Chukrasia tabularis occurs naturally, it has been exploited heavily for its timber, and has become liable to genetic erosion. In some countries it has been banned from logging, e.g. in Vietnam. In India a germplasm bank and a seed orchard have been established after selection of superior trees. Since 1999, systematic studies of the genetic variation of Chukrasia tabularis have been undertaken, including the establishment of provenance trials, coordinated by CSIRO, Australia.

Prospects

Chukrasia tabularis is a fairly fast-growing tree with high-quality wood. It is thus a plantation species with good potential. In tropical Asia it is rated as having high plantation potential on exposed sites, and it might have the same potential in Africa, although the results from the few tests done were variable. Tree improvement efforts should focus on productivity characteristics and on ways to minimize damage by Hypsipyla. Mixed planting may reduce damage by shoot borers.

Major references

  • Chudnoff, M., 1980. Tropical timbers of the world. USDA Forest Service, Agricultural Handbook No 607, Washington D.C., United States. 826 pp.
  • Ho, K.S. & Noshiro, S., 1995. Chukrasia A.H.L. Juss. In: Lemmens, R.H.M.J., Soerianegara, I. & Wong, W.C. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 5(2). Timber trees: Minor commercial timbers. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 127–130.
  • Kalinganire, A. & Pinyopusarerk, K., 2000. Chukrasia: biology, cultivation and utilisation. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. ACIAR Technical Reports No 49. 35 pp.
  • Mabberley, D.J., Pannell, C.M. & Sing, A.M., 1995. Meliaceae. In: Foundation Flora Malesiana (Editor). Flora Malesiana, Series 1, Volume 12. Rijksherbarium/Hortus Botanicus, Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 1–407.
  • Nakatani, M., Abdelgaleil, S.A., Saad, M.M., Huang, R.C., Doe, M. & Iwagawa, T., 2004. Phragmalin limonoids from Chukrasia tabularis. Phytochemistry 65(20): 2833–2841.
  • von dem Bussche, G.H., 1982. The establishment of hardwood plantations for the production of furniture and joinery timber in the Transvaal. Part 1: planning and progress. South African Forestry Journal 121: 11–16.
  • von dem Bussche, G.H., 1982. The establishment of hardwood plantations for the production of furniture and joinery timber in the Transvaal. Part 2: silviculture. South African Forestry Journal 121: 17–23.
  • World Agroforestry Centre, undated. Agroforestree Database. [Internet] World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Nairobi, Kenya. http://www.worldagroforestry.org/ Sites/TreeDBS/ aft.asp. January 2005.

Other references

  • Delwaulle, J.-C., 1979. Plantations forestières en Afrique tropicale sèche. Techniques et espèces à utiliser. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques 187: 3–30.
  • Oon, B.L., Choong, C.Y., Mahani, M.C. & Mat Salleh, K., 2000. Molecular phylogeny of Meliaceae based on chloroplast trnl-trnf nucleotide sequences. Malaysian Applied Biology 29: 127–132.
  • Richter, H.G. & Dallwitz, M.J., 2000. Commercial timbers: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. [Internet]. Version 18th October 2002. http://delta-intkey.com/wood/index.htm. January 2004.
  • Shukla, K.S., Sharma, R.C. & Anil-Negi, 1993. Plywood from Indian timbers: Chuckrassia tabularis (chickrassy). Journal of the Timber Development Association of India 39(4): 5–11.
  • Thangadurai, D., Nagalakshmi, M.A.H., Pulliah, T. & Ratnam, B.V.V., 2003. Essential oils of the leaves of Chukrasia tabularis collected from the Eastern Ghats of Peninsular India. Journal of Essential Oil Research 15(1): 25–27.

Sources of illustration

  • Ho, K.S. & Noshiro, S., 1995. Chukrasia A.H.L. Juss. In: Lemmens, R.H.M.J., Soerianegara, I. & Wong, W.C. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 5(2). Timber trees: Minor commercial timbers. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 127–130.

Author(s)

  • R.H.M.J. Lemmens, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article

Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2005. Chukrasia tabularis A.Juss. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. Accessed 11 April 2019.