By Rev. Fr. K.C. George
Indian Redwood Tree is newly introduced in Manipur. It is used for making health drink, income generation and environmental up gradation programmes.
Botanical name of Redwood Tree is Caesalpinia Sappan. This belongs to the family of Fabaceae-Caesalpnioideae. The common names are: (English) Indian brazilwood, Indian redwood or Sappanwood; (Burmese) teing-nyet; (French) Sappan; (Hindi) Vakam, Vakum ;( Malay) Sepang; (Malayalam) Pathimukam. Its genetic name is after A. Caesalpini, 1519 -1603, an Italian physician and botanist.
Redwood Tree is a medium sized, shrubby tree. In healthy soil it can grow upto 10 mts tall. The main trunk wood can become up to 14 cms in diameter. It is a thorny plant with stipulated leaves about 25 cms long and 10 cms broad.
ECOLOGY AND DISTRIBUTION
The origin of Redwood Tree is not certain but thought to be from central and southern India and through China to peninsular Malaysia. It is cultivated and naturalised in many parts of Malaysia.
Redwood Tree is mostly found in the regions of central and southern India, especially in Kerala. Hill areas, clayey soil, rocky place, stony place, warm climate forest and so on are suitable places for growing Redwood Tree. Watery and much wet soil condition is not suitable for plantation of this. Suitable annual temperature is 24 to 28 degree Celsius.
Redwood Tree is cultivated in China, India, Malaysia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Ayurvedic Health Care System is very much practiced in Kerala. So Redwood Tree is cultivated and used much in Kerala because of its medicinal value.
After planting it takes about two years for flowering. It flowers during summer season. The pods are about four inches long and half an inch broad. The pods are in cluster at the tip of the branch. As it gets matured the pods become yellowish and then black. This is the time for harvesting the seeds for the nursery. The pods are gathered, dried in the sun and preserved. If we do not harvest the seeds before the heavy rains, insects and worms may destroy the seeds. Seeds can be put into nursery as soon as it is ready.
HARVEST OF REDWOOD/HEARTWOOD
It takes 7 to 10 years for the harvest of the redwood. The sapwood is thin and the heartwood is hard and heavy. The heartwood yields valuable crystalline dye for colouring cotton, silk and wool fabrics. It is also used for making health drinks.
The tree can be uprooted and all the heartwood can be collected. The tree can also be cut about two feet above the ground level. There is every chance of shoots or sprouts growing from it.
PREPARATION OF HEALTHDRINK
About 10 grams of redwood is put into one litre of boiling water. The water becomes reddish. If the water is not fully reddish, we can add more redwood. We can also add jeera, cardamom and such spices for additional flavours. We can drink this instead of ordinary plain water.
Redwood has several medicinal properties:
Ø It is a powerful emmenagogue.
Ø It contains tanic and garlic acids as well as protosappanin A .
Ø It is a tryspin and chymotrypsin inhibitor.
Ø It is rich in insoflavonoids and methanolic substances.
Redwood is used to assist:
1. digesting any oily food;
2. the prevention or cure of gastric problems;
3. the smoothening of nerves;
4. the improvement of memory power;
5. adding beauty and colour to skin;
6. reducing prostate and other inflammations;
7. the antihypercholesteraemic activity of the body;
8. women after confinement;
9. relieving of vomiting symptoms;
10. persons with urinary problems and
11. the increase of glucose metabolism in diabetes.
It is used widely in Ayurvedic and other oriental medicines especially against inflammations and infections. Water boiled with Redwood is liberally served during meals in most of the rice hotels in South India and more especially in Kerala.
The heartwood costs about Rs. 200/- to Rs. 300/- per kg in the market. A full grown tree about 10 years old may yield at least 30 kgs of heartwood. So the gain will be minimum of Rs. 200/- X 30 kgs = Rs. 6,000/-. It is very profitable as the capital was only Rs. 100/-. This tree can be planted in any land, even rocky land. It can be used even for boundary fencing. For us in Manipur it is a WONDER PLANT.
PROPAGATION OF REDWOOD TREE IN MANIPUR
Redwood Trees are not seen in Manipur. For the first time in Manipur, since 2010, we have initiated the plantation of this tree and distributed about 200 seedlings to schools, churches, clubs, villages and interested people irrespective of their caste or creed. Those who wish to collect some Redwood Tree seedlings may contact Fr. K.C. George on cell phone No. 09436419272/089974008332.