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Satish Lele

Laxmi Taru (Simarouba)

Simarouba Glauca, is an edible oil seed bearing tree, which is well suited for warm, humid, tropical regions. Its cultivation depends on rainfall distribution, water holding capacity of the soil and sub-soil moisture. It is suited for temperature range of 10 to 40oC. the tree is now found in different regions of India. It can be grown on waste tracts of marginal, fallow lands of Southern India.

  1. Simarouba saplings are sturdy in nature and can survive under all types of terrain, and soils with some depth for the roots to penetrate.

  2. Simarouba survives under rain fed conditions with rainfall around 400 mm.

  3. It can grow in all types of degraded soils and waste lands.

  4. It is not grazed by cattle, goat or sheep.

  5. It sheds large quantities of leaves, which makes soil more fertile.

  6. It protects the soil from parching due to hot sun shine.

  7. Its seed contains 65% edible oil.

  8. Oilseed cake is of best NPK value.

  9. Its fruit is also edible with sweet pulp.

  10. All its parts have medicinal value.

  11. It has a life of about 70 years.

  12. Its wood is termite resistant.

  13. It is not attacked by insects and pests.

  14. Its long roots prevent soil erosion.

The tree is native to central and north America. It can grow at elevations from sea level to 1,000 meters. It grows 40 to 50 feet tall and has a span of 25 to 30 feet. It bears yellow flowers, and oval elongated purple colored fleshy fruits.
Propagation : It can be propagated from seeds, grafting and tissue culture technology. Fruits are collected in the month of April / May, when they are ripe and then dried in sun for about a week. Skin is separated and seeds are grown in plastic bags to produce saplings. Sapling 2 to 3 months old can be transplanted in plantation.
Soil and Climate : It is a tropical tree and rainfall should be at least 400 mm. The depth of the soil should be at least 1 meter. pH of soil should be from 5.5 to 8. It can grow in any type of soil which are unsuitable for cultivation of other crops.
The average per hectare yield of Simarouba is : Seed 4 tons, Oil 2.6 tons, cake 1.4 tons.
Simarouba glauca DC with Common names : Simarouba, oil tree, paradise tree or aceituno is an important tree species growing in the forests of Central America. It was first introduced by National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources in the Research Station at Amravati, Maharashtra in 1960s. This was brought to the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore in 1986 and systematic Research and Developmental Activities began from 1993 onwards.
DESCRIPTION : This medium sized evergreen tree begins to bear when it is 6-8 years old (3-4 years in case of grafts) and attains stability in production after another 4-5 years.
The flowering is annual, beginning in December and continuing up to following February. The trees are polygamodioecious and only some females are heavy bearers. By grafting with a suitable scion in situ the sex of the plant can be transformed as desired and the productivity can be increased.
The drupelets turn black (in Kaali variety) or greenish yellow (in Gauri variety) when they are ready for harvest during April/May. Manually harvested drupelets are depulped, washed and sun-dried (moisture about 10%) and transported at convenience for processing.
USES : Seeds contain 60-75% oil that can be extracted by conventional methods. Each well-grown tree yields 15 to 30 Kg nutlets equivalent to 2.5-5 Kg oil and about the same quantity of oilcake. This amounts to 1000-2000 Kg oil/ha/year (400-800 Kg/acre/year) and about the same quantity of oilcake.
The oil is largely used in the preparation of bakery products in Central America. In India too it can be used in the manufacture of vanaspati, vegetable oil and/or margarine. The oil is free from bad cholesterol.
It can be also used for industrial purposes in the manufacture of Biofuels, soaps, detergents, lubricants, varnishes, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals etc.
The oilcake being rich in nitrogen (8%), phosphorus (1.1%) and potash (1.2%), is good organic manure. The shells can be used in the manufacture of particleboard, activated charcoal or as fuel. The fruit pulp, rich in sugars (about 11%) can be used in the preparation of beverages.
The pulp along with leaf litter can be economically used in the manufacture of Vermi compost (about 8 tons/ha/year or 3 tons/acre/year). The bark and leaves are medicinally important. The wood is generally insect resistant and is used in the preparation of quality furniture, toys, in match industry, as pulp (in paper making) and as fuel.
CULTIVATION : The plants can be grown as orchards, boundary planting or as avenue trees. At the onset of regular monsoon, the grafts or seedlings of known sex are planted with 5 m (E-W) X 4 m (N-S) spacing (500 plants/ha; 200 plants/acre), in pits 45 x 45 x 45 cm size half filled with the top soil. Protective watering may be done by adopting SIM-FUN technique for one or two summer seasons. Timely weeding and manure application improve the growth of saplings and advance the flowering.
ECO-IMPACT : This ecofriendly tree with well-developed root system and with evergreen dense canopy efficiently checks soil erosion, supports soil microbial life, and improves groundwater position.
Besides converting solar energy into biochemical energy all round the year, it checks overheating of the soil surface all through the year and particularly during summer. Large scale planting in the wastelands facilitates wasteland reclamation, converts the accumulated atmospheric carbon dioxide into oxygen and contributes to the reduction of green house effect/global warming.
DISTRIBUTION : Simarouba is established in about 200 hectares in Andhra Pradesh, 100 hectares in Maharashtra, 100 hectares in Tamil Nadu and 100 hectares in Karnataka.
For a long-term strategy, cultivation of simarouba is advocated in the abundantly available marginal/wastelands to attain self-sufficiency in oils and its implementation shall be economically viable and ecologically sustainable.
Family: Simaroubaceae
Genus: Simarouba
Species: amara, glauca
Synonyms: Quassia simarouba, Zwingera amara, Picraena officinalis, Simarouba medicinalis
Common Names: Simarouba, gavilan, negrito, marubá, marupá, dysentery bark, bitterwood, paradise tree, palo blanco, robleceillo, caixeta, daguilla, cedro blanco, cajú-rana, malacacheta, palo amargo, pitomba, bois amer, bois blanc, bois frene, bois negresse, simaba
Part Used: Bark, wood, leaves
Simarouba is a medium-sized tree that grows up to 20 m high, with a trunk 50 to 80 cm in diameter. It produces bright green leaves 20 to 50 cm in length, small white flowers, and small red fruits. It is indigenous to the Amazon rainforest and other tropical areas in Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, and Central America.
TRIBAL AND HERBAL MEDICINE USES : The leaves and bark of Simarouba have long been used as a natural medicine in the tropics. Simarouba was first imported into France from Guyana in 1713 as a remedy for dysentery. When France suffered a dysentery epidemic from 1718 to 1725, simarouba bark was one of the few effective treatments. French explorers "discovered" this effective remedy when they found that the indigenous Indian tribes in the Guyana rainforest used simarouba bark as an effective treatment for malaria and dysentery - much as they still do today. Other indigenous tribes throughout the South American rainforest use simarouba bark for fevers, malaria, and dysentery, as a hemostatic agent to stop bleeding, and as a tonic.
Simarouba also has a long history in herbal medicine in many other countries. In Cuba, where it is called gavilan, an infusion of the leaves or bark is considered to be astringent, a digestion and menstrual stimulant and an antiparasitic remedy. It is taken internally for diarrhea, dysentery, malaria, and colitis; it is used externally for wounds and sores. In Belize the tree is called negrito or dysentery bark. There the bark (and occasionally the root) is boiled in water to yield a powerful astringent and tonic used to wash skin sores and to treat dysentery, diarrhea, stomach and bowel disorders, hemorrhages, and internal bleeding. In Brazil it is employed much the same way against fever, malaria, diarrhea, dysentery, intestinal parasites, indigestion, and anemia. In Brazilian herbal medicine, simarouba bark tea has long been the most highly recommended (and most effective) natural remedy against chronic and acute dysentery.
PLANT CHEMICALS : The main active group of chemicals in simarouba are called quassinoids, which belong to the triterpene chemical family. Quassinoids are found in many plants and are well known to scientists. The antiprotozoal and antimalarial properties of these chemicals have been documented for many years. Several of the quassinoids found in simarouba, such as ailanthinone, glaucarubinone, and holacanthone, are considered the plant's main therapeutic constituents and are the ones documented to be antiprotozal, anti-amebic, antimalarial, and even toxic to cancer and leukemia cells.
The main plant chemicals in simarouba include: ailanthinone, benzoquinone, canthin, dehydroglaucarubinone, glaucarubine, glaucarubolone, glaucarubinone, holacanthone, melianone, simaroubidin, simarolide, simarubin, simarubolide, sitosterol, and tirucalla.
BIOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES AND CLINICAL RESEARCH : After a 200-year documented history of use for dysentery, its use for amebic dysentery was finally validated by conventional doctors in 1918. A military hospital in England demonstrated that the bark tea was an effective treatment for amebic dysentery in humans. The Merck Institute reported that simarouba was 91.8% effective against intestinal amebas in humans in a 1944 study and, in 1962, other researchers found that the seeds of simarouba showed active anti-amebic activities in humans. In the 1990s scientists again documented simarouba's ability to kill the most common dysentery-causing organism, Entamoeba histolytica, as well as two diarrhea-causing bacteria, Salmonella and Shigella.
Scientists first looked at simarouba's antimalarial properties in 1947, when they determined a water extract of the bark (as well as the root) demonstrated strong activity against malaria in chickens. This study showed that doses of only 1 mg of bark extract per kg of body weight exhibited strong antimalarial activity. When new strains of malaria with resistance to our existing antimalarial drugs began to develop, scientists began studying simarouba once again. Studies published between 1988 and 1997 demonstrated that simarouba and/or its three potent quassinoids were effective against malaria in vitro as well as in vivo. More importantly, the research indicated that the plant and its chemicals were effective against the new drug-resistant strains in vivo and in vitro. While most people in North America will never be exposed to malaria, between 300 and 500 million cases of malaria occur each year in the world, leading to more than one million deaths annually. Having an easily-grown tree in the tropics where most malaria occurs could be an important resource for an effective natural remedy-it certainly has worked for the Indians in the Amazon for ages.
It will be interesting to see if North American scientists investigate simarouba as a possibility for North America's only malaria-like disease: the newest mosquito-borne threat, West Nile virus. It might be a good one to study because, in addition to its antimalarial properties, clinical research has shown good antiviral properties with simarouba bark. Researchers in 1978 and again in 1992 confirmed strong antiviral properties of the bark in vitro against herpes, influenza, polio, and vaccinia viruses.
Another area of research on simarouba and its plant chemicals has focused on cancer and leukemia. The quassinoids responsible for the anti-amebic and antimalarial properties have also shown in clinical research to possess active cancer-killing properties. Early cancer screening performed by the National Cancer Institute in 1976 indicated that an alcohol extract of simarouba root (and a water extract of its seeds) had toxic actions against cancer cells at very low dosages (less than 20 mcg/ml). Following up on that initial screening, scientists discovered that several of the quassinoids in simarouba (glaucarubinone, alianthinone, and dehydroglaucarubinone) had antileukemic actions against lymphocytic leukemia in vitro and published several studies in 1977 and 1978. Researchers found that yet another simarouba quassinoid, holacanthone, also possessed antileukemic and antitumorous actions in 1983. Researchers in the UK cited the antitumorous activity of two of the quassinoids, ailanthinone and glaucarubinone, against human epidermoid carcinoma of the pharynx. A later study in 1998 by U.S. researchers demonstrated the antitumorous activity of glaucarubinone against solid tumors (human and mouse cell lines), multi-drug-resistant mammary tumors in mice, and antileukemic activity against leukemia in mice.
Simarouba is the subject of one U.S. patent so far and, surprisingly, it's not for its antimalarial, anti-amebic, or even anticancerous actions. Rather, water extracts of simarouba were found to increase skin keratinocyte differentiation and to improve skin hydration and moisturization. In 1997, a patent was filed on its use to produce a cosmetic or pharmaceutical skin product. The patent describes simarouba extract as having significant skin depigmentation activity (for liver spots), enhancing the protective function of the skin (which maintains better moisturization), and having a significant keratinocyte differentiation activity (which protects against scaly skin).
CURRENT PRACTICAL USES : While at least one scientific research group attempts to synthesize one or more of simarouba's potent quassinoids for pharmaceutical use, the plant remains an important natural remedy in the herbal pharmacopeias of many tropical countries and in the rainforest shaman's arsenal of potent plant remedies. Natural health practitioners outside of South America are just beginning to learn about the properties and actions of this important rainforest medicinal plant and how to use it in their own natural health practices. Simarouba bark tea is still the first line of defense for amebic dysentery and diarrhea among the natural products available. It's also a good natural remedy for viruses. Although not widely available in the U.S. today, it can be found in bulk supplies and in various natural multi-herb anti-parasite and anti-viral formulas.
CURRENT RESEARCH : Maharshi Phule Krushi Vidyapith, Rahuri University is working on Simarouba having 64 germplasm plants planted during 2003-04 at Post Graduate Institute, MPKV, Rahuri. They noticed the flowering (16 female amd 9 male plants) during this year. As per their observation, they found some of the high yielding plants. Farmers visit this plot and are keen about marketing and facilities of extraction oil plants in Maharashtra. For more information e-mail to Prof. Surendra S. Dodake, Associate Professor and In-charge of project or Yogesh G. Ban, Junior Reserach Assistant, banyogesh@gmail.com or uucmpkv@gmail.com.