Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Zanthoxylum acanthopodium DC., Prodr. 1: 727. 1824; Hook.f., Fl. Brit. India 1: 493. 1875. Z. acanthopodium DC. var. timbor Hook.f., Fl. Brit. India 1: 493. 1875.

Beng.: Tom bul; Hindi: Darmar, Nepalidhanya, Tejphal Timur, Kh.: Dieng-so-Khlam.

Shrubs, erect or scandent or small trees up to ca 6 m high; branchlets cylindric, armed with pseudostipular or rarely scattered, straight or incurved, compressed, reddish-brown prickles (25 mm long), ferruginous-pubescent; bark grey-brownish, lenticellate. Leaves 3-foliolate or imparipinnate, up to 25 cm long; petiole and rachis armed with compressed prickles on both sides, ferruginous-pubescent to glabrate, narrowly to broadly winged, wings 2.5 - 6 mm broad on either side; leaflets 3 - 15, opposite, subsessile, ovate-lanceolate to elliptic-lanceolate or oblong, obtuse to cuneate and slightly oblique at base, acute to acuminate or rarely obtuse at apex, subentire to glandular-serrate along margins, 1 - 11 x 0.5 - 3 cm, glossy green above, light greenish beneath, chartaceous, glabrous to ferruginous-pubescent especially on lower surface; midnerve armed with flattened prickles above and beneath; secondary nerves prominent, 5 - 30 pairs, reticulate. Inflorescences axillary, paniculate, up to 2 cm long, dense, ferruginous-pubescent. Male flowers ca 3 mm long; bracts minute, ca 0.5 mm long, hairy; pedicels slender, 1.5 - 3 mm long, pubescent. Perianth uni-or irregularly biseriate, the segments 5 - 8, lanceolate or ligulate, acute or obtuse, 1 - 1.5 mm long, green or yellowish, hairy. Stamens 4 - 6; filaments linear, ca 2 mm long; anthers ca 0.8 mm long, reddish-purple prior to anthesis. Disk pulvinate, ca 0.8 mm high. Pistillodes 2 - 3 (-5). Female flowers ca 2 mm long; pedicels ca 15 mm long, pubescent. Perianth and disk as in male flowers. Staminodes absent. Ovary 2 - 5-carpellate, each carpel ca 1.5 mm long, ovoid, glandular-punctate, hairy or glabrous; style divergent, articulated at about 3 mm below globose stigma, ca 0.5 mm long. Follicles 2 - 5, carpels 4 - 1 or 0, caducous, abortive, ovoid-subglobose, ca 4 mm across, reddish, pustular; seeds ca 3 mm across, black, shiny.

Fl. March - April; Fr. July - Sept.

Distrib. India: Evergreen forests of the Himalayas and N.E. India, up to 2000 m. Uttar Pradesh, W. Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Meghalaya.

Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, S.W. China, Thailand and Sumatra.

Notes. Fruit is used both as a medicine and a spice. An aromatic essential oil called 'Wartara oil' is extracted from fruits, which has properties similar to Coriander oil. Seeds are bitter, aromatic, subdorific and are used in preparation of tooth powder. In Assam, seeds are used as a fish poison. An insecticide which is used against house flies, is made from this plant. The plant has medicinal properties similar to Z. armatum.

Very similar to Z. armatum but can be recognised from it chiefly by its short, condensed, axillary panicles and ferruginous-pubescent branchlets. As has been noted by Babu (1974) the frequent occurrence of reddish-purple anthers and prominent lateral nerves among the Indian material of Z. armatum brings the two species much closer than ever before. The indumentum pattern also varies considerably within the species in accordance with its geographical and altitudinal range.

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