Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Zanthoxylum nitidum (Roxb.) DC., Prodr. 1: 727. 1824; Babu in Bull. Bot. Surv. India 16: 61. 1974 (1977). Fagara nitida Roxb., Fl. Ind. 1: 439. 1820. Z. hamiltonianum Wallich ex Hook.f., Fl. Brit. India 1: 494. 1875. Z. hamiltonianum Wallich ex Hook.f. var. tomentosum Hook.f., l.c.

Shrubs, scandent or climbing, evergreen; branchlets velvety-tomentose, usually armed with scattered, few, straight or retrorse, brownish, 3 - 5 mm long prickles, or sometimes unarmed. Leaves trifoliolate to imparipinnate, up to 40 cm long; petiole and rachis grooved above, prickly beneath or occasionally not, velvety-tomentose to glabrous; leaflets 3 - 9, lateral ones opposite, broadly ovate-elliptic or oblong, obtuse to cuneate at base, oblique or not, abruptly acuminate at apex, acumen 1 - 1.5 cm long with a retuse tip, often entire or sometimes remotely glandular-crenate along margins, 6 - 15 x 2.5 - 7.5 cm, chartaceous to coriaceous, glossy on both surfaces, glabrous above, shortly pubescent along midnerve and secondary nerves; midnerve depressed above, raised beneath; secondary nerves 5 - 15 pairs, spreading, depressed above; petiolules 2 - 4 mm long. Inflorescence axillary, paniculate, fascicled, 3 - 15 cm long, glabrous to velvety-tomentose. Male flowers 4 - 5 mm long; pedicels 1 - 1.5 cm long, pubescent. Sepals 4, broadly triangular, acute, 1 mm long. Petals 4, ovate-elliptic, obtuse, 2.5 - 3.5 mm long, Stamens 4,4 - 4.5 mm long; filaments linear, 3 - 3.5 mm long; anthers ovoid, ca 1 mm long, gland tipped. Pistillodes 4,linear,ca 1 mm long. Disk flat, ca 0.5 mm high. Female flowers 2 - 3 mm long; pedicels, sepals, petals as in male flowers. Disk pulvinate, ca 0.5 mm high. Gynoecium 4-carpellate, carpels ovoid, 2 - 2.5 mm long; style short; stigma capitate, cohering into a peltate disk at anthesis. Fruiting pedicels 3 - 5 mm long. Follicles 1 - 4 with 3,2, 1 or 0 abortive carapels respectively, globose, 5 - 7 mm across, exocarp pustular, apiculate; seeds rounded, ca 5 mm across, black, smooth.

Fl. Feb.- May; Fr. Aug. -Oct.

Distrib. India: Evergreen forests between 100 - 300 m. Bihar, W. Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Andaman Islands.

Distrib. Thailand, N. & S. Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Ryuku Islands, Sumatra, Malay Peninsula, java, Anabas Islands, Philippines, Celebes, Moluccas, New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Australia.

Notes. Root bark is used for treatment of tooth ache and boils. It is also used as an insecticide and fish poison. Stem and root bark contain an alkaloid known as 'nitidine'. Fruits are also used as fish poison. Seeds yield an essential oil containing high percent- age of linalool.

Z. nitidum is closely related to Z. tetraspermum of peninsular India and Sri Lanka, but differs from latter by having predominantly axillary inflorescences and almost entire leaflets with less number of secondary nerves i.e. 5 - 15 pairs.

Although Piper pinnatum Lour. (1790) is the earliest name referred to this species, the epithet 'pinnatum', however, cannot be taken here because it is preoccupied in Zanthoxylum for a Norfolk Island species Z. pinnatum (J.R. & G. Forst.) Druce (based on Blackbumia pinnata J.R. & G. Forst.). The next available legitimate name is Fagara nitida Roxb. (1820) based on which De Candolle (1824) proposed the combinations Z. nitidum (Roxb.) DC. which is the correct name for this species (Babu 1974 (1977).

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