Indian Beech Tree (പൊന്നം)

Scientific Name:Pongamia pinnata (L.) Pierre

Synonyms:Dalbergia arborea Willd. ,
 Pongamia glabra Vent.

Systematic Position
Class: Dicotylodonae
Sub Class:   Polypetalae
Family: Fabaceae

Common Names
Ponga maram
Hindi: Karanj

Description: Evergreen trees, to18 m high, bark 10-12 mm thick, surface grey, smooth, speckled with brown; blaze-yellow; branchlets lenticellate. Leaves imparipinnate, alternate; stipules lateral, small, oblong, cauducous; rachis 10-15 cm long, slender, pulvinate, pubescent; leaflets 5-7, opposite, estipellate; petiolule 6-10 mm; slender, pubescent; leaflet 4.5-12 x 2-7 cm, elliptic-acuminate, elliptic-lanceolate, ovate or ovate-oblong, apex acuminate, margin entire, glabrous, chartaceous; lateral nerves 5-8 pairs, pinnate, ascending, slender, faint; intercostae reticulate, obscure. Flowers bisexual, purplish-white, 15-18 mm long, in lax axillary racemes, axis pubescent; bracts small, cauducous; calyx tube campanulate; minutely 5 toothed, apex truncate; corolla exserted; petals 5, clawed; standard suborbicular with curved folds above the claw; wings obliquely oblong, slightly adnate above the claws to the obtuse keel petals which are joined near the tip; stamens 10, monadelphous, the vexillary stamen free below and above; anthers uniform; ovary subsessile, inferior, 1-celled, ovules 2; style in curved, beardless; stigma capitate. Fruit a pod, 4-5 x 2-2.5 cm, obliquely oblong, flat, thick, pointed at both ends, indehiscent, slightly falcate; seed one, reniform. Flowering and fruiting: April-December

Habitat:  River and stream banks, moist places, wet places, along irrigation channel

Distribution: Indo-Malesia

Uses:  The leaves are bitter and not preferred by animals. Leaves are used to make roof of festival pandhals. Not preferred as a fire wood species. Bark is used to wash the idols of Gods. The fruit is to cure whooping cough of children. Seeds traded in earlier days. Used in Ayurveda, Folk medicine, Sowa-Rigpa, Unani, Siddha, Traditional chinese medicine.