Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Vateria Indica L., Sp. Pl. 515. 1753; Dyer in Fl. Brit. India 1: 313. 1874. V. malabarica Blume, Mus. Bot. 2: 29.1852.

Kan.: Safed damar, Bili dupa, Velthpaini Dhupa, Illupathla, Dhupad amara, Sald-hupa, Hoogadamara, Munda dhupa, Madoi dhupa, Bilaguggala, Bilada mara, Gugle, Bila dupa, Veltha Payin (in Coorg); Mal.: Vella Kunturukkam, Paini maram, Perum piney, Payani, Vella Payin; Sans.: Dhupa, Aja karna; Tam.: Vellei kundirikkam, Vellei damar, Piney maram, Dhup maram, Vellei kungiliam; Tel.: Dhupada manu; Eng.: The Piney varnish Tree, The White dammar tree, The Indian Copal tree, White Dhup.

Evergreen trees, ca 30 m tall with a clean cylindrical bole; bark smooth, white to grey, blotched with white and green, peeling off in thick, round flakes; branchlets and inflorescence stellate-canascent. Leaves ca 25 x 10 cm, ovate or oblong or elliptic-oblong, cordate or rounded at base, obtuse or acuminate at apex, bright red when young; lateral nerves slender; petioles 2.5 - 3.8 cm long, stout; stipules ca 1.3 cm long, obliquely lanceolate, acute. Flowers erect, white, fragrant in ca 20 cm long terminal or lateral cotymbose panicles; pedicels ca 2 cm long. Calyx lobes lanceolate, obtuse, canescent on both surfaces. Petals white, elliptic-oblong, obtuse, spreading. Stamens 40 - 50; filaments short; anthers nearly sessile, glabrous, hairy at base, appendage of the connective as long as anther. Ovary ovoid-oblong, tomentose; styles longer than stamens, filiform, glabrous; stigmas small. Capsules pale brown, ca 11 cm long and ca 6 cm in diam., ovoid-ellipsoid or oblong, obtuse, coriaceous, fleshy, 3-valved, reddish-white or creamy.

Fl. Jan. - April; Fr. May - July.

Distrib. India: Evergreen forests of the Western Ghats up to 1300 m. Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.


Notes. This species is a hygrophilous type of Dipterocarp and is a pronounced shade-bearer. Though found sporadically, this species exhibits a strong tendency to form nearly pure patches in favourable localities especially near streams with free drainage in evergreen forests. The ripe fruits are viviparous. Good seed yield occurs once in 3 to 5 years with one or two poor-seeded and one or two average-seeded years in between. Though evergreen, the tree sheds its leaves (in March) and soon after the copper-coloured or bright red new foliage begin to appear. By April - May, the tree bears new foliage. A second flush of foliage appears after the rainy season from the months of October to December.

Wood is much in demand in plywood and veneer industry; also used for making tea chests, trunks, ammunition boxes, ceilings, partitions, floorings and other interior fittings. Wood is considered to be fairly suitable for paper pulp. Bark and leaf juice are medicinal. Gum resin known in trade as 'Piney resin', 'White damar', or 'Dhupa' is used in varnish industry and for making incense. The semisolid fat, known as 'Piney tallow,. 'Malabar tallow' or 'Dhupa fat' obtained from the dried kernels of the seeds is used in the manufacture of candles and soaps.

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