Pongamia pinnata Seeds
Pongamia pinnata (Fabaceae) is a beautiful roadside tree. It is native to Tropical and Eastern Asia, Australia and Pacific Islands. It is widely distributed in India, Burma, Australia, Mascarenes, Polynesia and Pakistan (Sindh & Punjab). The plant is known by its synonyms including, Millettia pinnata, Cytisus pinnatus, Derris indica, Pongamia glabra etc. It is also commonly known as Pongam oil tree or Indian beech. The specie is distributed across the world in humid and subtropical regions from sea level to 1200 m. Their seeds are brown in colour and used for propagation of plant.
Pongamia pinnata Overview
Pongamia pinnata grows up to 15-25 meters in height and has a large canopy. The trunk is straight or crooked, 50-80 cm in diameter. The bark is grey brown in colour and smooth in texture. Branches are glabrous while leaves are alternate and short-stalked. They are soft and shiny when young and glossy green when matured. The flowers occurs in small clusters in white, pink and purple in colour. Each inflorescence bears 2-4 flowers which grows 15-18 mm long. The flowering period starts from April to May but in some countries it blossoms throughout the year. The fruit is indehiscent pods. These pods are smooth, thick-walled and elliptical in shape. They occurs when plant matures usually after 4-6 years. Each pod contain 1-2 brownish-red seed. Their seeds are bean-like and about 1.5-2.5 cm long with an oily coat.
Propagation of Pongamia pinnata through Seeds
Pongamia pinnata can be propagated through seeds. It can grow wildly in almost in all types of soil. The pods containing seeds drop from the tree and germinate when their seed husks decays. These pods are collected and husks are removed by hands.
Viability of Pongamia pinnata Seeds
Seeds remain viable for sometimes, therefore fresh seeds are preferred for sowing. They do not need any scarification and sow directly in soil. They germinates within 1-5 weeks of sowing. The seedlings attain a height of 25-30 cm in first growing season. Transplantation of seedling will be conducted after a year.
How to take care of Pongamia pinnata Seedlings
The seeds of Pongamia pinnata can grow in sandy, stony or clayey soil. It prefer temperature between 1˚C to 38˚C. It needs a pH of 6 to 9. The seedlings need the 2-6 months dry period. They prefer moisture for optimum growth. It prefers an annual rainfall ranging from 500-2500 mm.
Production of Pongamia pinnata Seeds
Pongamia pinnata starts fruiting from 4 to 7 years of planting. The full production of fruit or pods occurs within 10 years. The annual production of seeds 0-90 kg per tree.
Pongamia pinnata Seed Oil
An oil is extracted from Pongamia pinnata seeds which is known as “Pongamia oil”. Seeds contain about 30-40% thick, yellow or reddish-brown oil. This oil is an important asset of plant and is used as lamp oil. It is also used as lubricants and in making of soaps. The oil has a disagreeable taste and odour which is due to the presence of high triglycerides and flavonoids content. This oil is antiseptic and show resistance to pests. It is also used for skin diseases and rheumatic joints. It is a source of biodiesel for third world countries. The residue from oil extraction is called “Press cake” which is used as an animal feed and fertilizer.
Landscaping Purposes of Pongamia pinnata
Pongamia pinnata is used mainly for landscaping purposes. It is a good windbreak or shade providing plant due to its large canopy. Their flowers are showy and fragrant which are used as compost for plants require rich nutrients.