Acrocarpus fraxinifolius is a lofty, deciduous, branch-less, buttressed tree
Acrocarpus fraxinifolius is a lofty, deciduous, buttressed tree, up to 60m in height and 8.1m in girth, with a clear bole of 18-45m. The tree is found in the lower hill-forests of the eastern Himalayas, extending to Nagaland and Manipur, and in the evergreen hill-forests of South India. Bark is fairly smooth, greyish brown, and leaves are bipinnate with 30cm or more long rachis. There are 5-8 pairs of oblong, elliptical-lanceolate or oblique leaflets. Flowers are scarlet, red or orange in simple, axillary, dense recemes. Acrocarpus fraxinifolius seed pods are long-stalked, flat and thin,and contain 5-10 seeds. Seeds are brown, obovate, oblique and compressed.
Acrocarpus fraxinifolius commonly known as Pink cedar is one of the largest and fast growing timber trees in India thriving in areas of heavy rainfall. It is commonly found in the evergreen forests of the Western ghats, mostly on the hill slopes (up to 1,200m), in Sikkim and in Duars of West Bengal and Assam. The tree is now also cultivated on a large scale in Coorg and South Kanara districts of Karnataka. Acrocarpus fraxinifolius is also grown as a shade-tree for coffee in Coorg, and has been recommended for tea plantations. It can be grown in areas unsuitable for teak. The tree is sensitive to frost but the seedlings are not browsed by animals.
Under natural conditions Acrocarpus fraxinifolius seeds germinate with the onset of monsoon and the young seedlings can be collected for the nursery. The tree flowers in South India from November to January and the fruits ripen during April-June. Though the pods are collected when they turn black, from February till the onset of the rains, the best seeds are obtained only during April-May. The pods are dried in the sun for 3-4 days on mats and beaten with stick to shell the seeds. About 46,000 seeds weigh to a kilogram. Acrocarpus fraxinifolius seeds cannot be stored for more than 10 months. The seeds, sown immedietaly after collection, show 30-40 per cent germination in 10 days. Successful germination requires soaking in concentrated sulphuric acid for about 10 min or in warm water for 14hrs. For direct sowings, the seeds are placed 1.8m apart or may be broadcast in burnt fuel-coupes.
In recent practices, the seed are mixed with those of Chuckrasia tabularis A.Juss.or Toona ciliata M.Roem. Acrocarpus fraxinifolius are tolerant to shade and grow rapidly. Nursery beds are watered twice a day during germination period, and later every alternate day. The beds are weeded after germination. The seedlings are pricked out as they are sufficiently large for handling and transplanted in June of the same year. older plants can also be transplanted succesfully. Acrocarpus fraxinifolius susceptible to infestation by aquatic insects, such as Martesia spp. and Teredo spp. If infected by Trametes lactinea Berk and T. betulina Linn, sap wood turns white and spongy, while heartwood bomes. It is also infested by several beetles and larvae.
The sapwood is white , heartwood is light red with slightly darker lines. The wood is lustrous, without characteristics odour, fairly durable, moderately hard and strong heavy ornamental. Somewhat interlocked or wavy grained or with fiddle-back mottling, the wood is comparable to that of Chuckrasia spp. It is easy to saw, though nail-holding power is low. Chuckrasia tabularis wood is primarily used for shingles and plankings and for making tea-boxes in West Bengal. It is a general-utility timber, suitable for beams, rafters, trusses, doors, windows, etc. For doors and windows, it may be substituted for teak and sal after proper seasoning and preservative treatment. It is a general construction wood and is substituted for Poonspar wood (Calophyllum elatum). Being ornamental, it is also suitable for packing-cases for heavy machinery and other similar stores, tool helves and handles for shovels, rakes, and spades. It makes good veneers and plywood. Chuckrasia tabularis timber may be used for the productionn of second-class kraft pulp. The waste wood is used as fuel.