Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Shorea robusta Roxb. ex Gaertn. f., Suppl. Carp. 3: 48, t. 186. 1805; Dyer in Fl. Brit. India 1: 306. 1874.

Asm.: Hal, Sal Borsal; Beng. & Hindi: Sal, Sakhu, Shal; Guj. & Mar.: Ral, Rala; Kan.: Kabba; Kh.: Dieng-blei; Lep.: Taksal Kung; Mal.: Malppamarutu, Maramaram; Or.: Soringhi; Sal Seral; Sans.: Shal; Santal: Sarjour; Tam.: Kungiliyam; Tel.: Gugal, Guggi-lamu, Thamba; Eng.: Sal or The Sal Tree.

Deciduous trees, ca 50 m tall; trunk ca 4 m in girth; crown spreading; bark reddish-brown or grey, smooth or longitudinally fissured; branchlets buff tomentose. Leaves 10 - 40 x 5 - 24 cm, ovate-oblong, rounded or cordate at base, very shortly acuminate ending in an obtuse point, glabrous and shining, coriaceous when mature, at first reddish or pinkish becoming dark green at maturity, lateral nerves ca 12 pairs, prominent beneath; petioles 2 - 2.5 cm long; stipules 8 mm long, falcate, densely covered with silvery peltate scales, caducous. Flowers yellow or creamy, subsessile, on ca 25 cm long, racemose panicles, branches unilateral and racemose. Calyx segments ca 2 mm long, ovate or triangular, densely yellowish pubescent. Petals 10 - 15 x 5 mm, lanceolate-acuminate, buff silky outside, almost glabrous inside, longitudinally 10 - 13-nerved. Stamens much shorter than petals; connective minutely trifid at apex. Ovary globose, pubescent; stigma tridentate. Fruit belly ca 1.5 cm long, ovoid, acute, densely pubescent; three larger wings ca 8 x 1.5 cm and two smaller wings ca 3.5 x 0.5 cm, oblong or spathulate, obtuse, 10 - 12-nerved, more or less pubescent.

Fl. Feb. - May; Fr. May - July.

Distrib. India: Terai region of tropical Himalayas from Himachal Pradesh to Assam and to Tripura, West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, Eastern districts of Madhya Pradesh extending further south to the Eastern Ghats in Andhra Pradesh up to an altitude of 900 m.

Nepal and Bhutan.

Notes. One of the most gregarious Indian trees and under favourable conditions tends to regenerate in masses and grows up in more or less even aged crops of varying extent in which it is either pure or forms bulk of the stock mixed with other species. The inflorescence is reported to vary in its colour from pink, cream to light pink or pinkish cream depending on the age.

The Wood being strong and durable ranks next to teak and is one of the highly coveted constructional and domestic woods of North, East and Central India. It is considered as one of the best and is also used for making electrical transmission poles, agricultural implements, tool handles and in boat and ship building, etc. Oleo-resin is used in indigenous system of medicine, as an incense and as a hardening agent in making shoe polishes, carbon paper, typewriter ribbons etc. Tannin obtained from the bark, twigs, and leaves is used for tanning leather, paper, cellulose, etc. The fatty oil from the seeds (Sal butter) is used for cooking and lighting purposes. The tree is one of the primary hosts for 'tasar' silk worm.


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