Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Garcinia morella (Gaertn.) Desr. in Lam., Encyd. 3: 701, t. 405 f. 2. 1792; T. Anderson in Fl. Brit. India 1: 264. 1874. Mangostana morella Gaertn., Fruct. Sem. Pl. 2: 106, t. 101. 1790. Garcinia gutta Wight, Icon. Pl. Ind. Orient. 1: 1. 44. 1840, excl. syn.

Asm.: Kuji-thekera; Beng. & Hindi: Tamal; Kan.: Hardala or Aradal, Devanahuli, Jarize, Arsinagurgi,. Mal.: Chigiri, Daramba, Karukkampuli Pinnarpuli; Mar.: Tamal, Revalchinni; Tam.: Makki, Solaippuli; Tel.: Pasupuvame, Revalchinni; Eng.: The My-sore Gamboge tree, The Indian Gamboge tree.

Trees, 10 - 17 m tall, with spreading branches and dense crown; branchlets quadrangular, quite glabrous, drying grey; wood yellow, mottled, hard; bark ochraceous, brownish-grey or brown to dark brown, thin, generally smooth, exuding brilliant, dark yellow, sticky, thick latex. Leaves 10 - 16 x 4 - 9 cm, elliptic, ovate, obovate or oblanceolate, acute or cuneate at base, obtuse to shortly obtuse-acuminate at apex, entire or subrepand, chartaceous; lateral veins slender, obliquely parallel, arcuate, anastomosing close to margin, obscure; petioles 8 - 10 (- 15) mm. long, stout, thickened and shortly ligulate at base. Male flowers: ca 3 in axillary, leafy fascicles or on old wood, 5 - 10 mm in diam., white or creamy, faintly fragrant; pedicels 4 - 6 mm long. Sepals 4, 4 - 6 mm long, orbicular or elliptic, decussate, outer pair smaller than inner, thin, greenish-white. Petals 4, white to pink, 5 - 8 mm long, rotundate or broadly elliptic, fleshy (drying thin), veined, concave. Stamens numerous (ca 25 - 40) in a central, subglobose mass; filaments short, obconic, free at apex; anthers red, orbicular, flattened, peltate, adnate, plurilocular, red, dehiscence circumscissile or transverse. Rudimentary pistil absent. Female flowers: Axillary, solitary, equal to or larger than male flowers. Sepals persistent. Staminodes ca 10 - 12, connate at base into a ring round the ovary. Ovary subglobose, glabrous, 4-locular; stigmas broad, sessile, 4-lobed, peltate, coronate, dentate, yellow, turning brown-red, persistent. Berries 2 - 3 cm in diam., subglobose or sometimes globose, obtuse, smooth, sessile, yellowish, contains much yellow gamboge, pulp sweet, acidic, crowned by 4 round, confluent papillate stigmas, 4-seeded. Seeds kidney-shaped to ovoid-reniform, laterally compressed, dark brown, muricate.

Fl. & Fr. Nov. - July; fruits persist till Dec.

Distrib. India: In evergreen, moist and dry deciduous forests from plains up to 1000 m. Western Ghats and North-east India. Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Meghalaya.

Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Malacca.

Notes. Many botanists include G. pictoria Roxb. under this species but it is treated separately as a good species in this flora.

This species yields a beautiful pigment after attaining 20 years of age. This is the indigenous source of gamboge. The pigment is used in preparing water colours and golden coloured spirit varnishes for metals and for dyeing silken fabrics. A golden yellow ink is also made for writing on black paper. The pigments morellin and guttiferin possess anboacterial properties. The gamboge is used as a hydragogue and drastic cathartic, anthelmintic, in constipation, anasarca and other dropsical affections. The fruit rind is used in tanning. The seed oil or 'butter' is used in cooking and confectionary, as a substitute for ghee, in candle making and in medicine. Wood used for cabinet work and temporary structures.

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