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Dendro-series! Tree of the month: Indian Rosewood

Indian rosewood, also known as shisham, is known to have many beautiful properties. Scientifically known as Dalbergia latifolia, Indian rosewood is highly looked up to in the carpentry industry. Not only that, like any other tree, it does have its medicinal properties that we all can benefit from. Indian rosewood is not a common tree that we can see here in Singapore, though that does not mean it does not exist! It is a native plant that is located in the low elevation forest of South India.

How did Indian Rosewood get its name? Through their smell! Like cedar trees and sandalwood trees, Indian rosewood’s wood is rich with oils. Even after the wood has been carved out or cut, it will not lose its smell and will continue to smell for years! I do not know about you guys, but I would actually like to have scented furnitures in my house. I am sure it will add up to the warmth of the house. Wood has a distinctive smell that just adds up to the homey touches. Let us learn more about Indian Rosewood!

Indian Rosewood, A.K.A Dalbergia latifolia

Indian rosewood is a single-stemmed tree with a dome-shaped crown that can grow as tall as 40 meters tall and has a girth of 2 meters. The tree is so huge and thick, you can give it a huge hug. The tree grows best in sandy loam that drains well; it doesn't like thick, wet soils. The pH of the soil should always be between 5.2 and 7.5 as most of the basic nutrients lie within that spectrum. Indian rosewood has a very unique trunk, it has grey, thin bark with irregular small fractures and fibrous longitudinal flakes that exfoliate.

The leaves of Dalbergia latifolia are odd-pinnate with 5 - 7 unequally sized leaflets, alternate, complex dark green leaves reaching 10 - 30 cm long. The flowers are white, arranged in an inflorescence that measures about 5 to 20 cm.. The fruits are an indehiscent brown pod, meaning that the pod will not burst open when ripe, measuring around 15 cm long and 2.5 cm wide, both ends have pointed tips.

Uses of Indian rosewood

Commercial uses:

Since Indian rosewood is known for its durability and ability to withstand pressure, it is used in the carpentry and woodworking industries. Some of the wood can be used to be carved out and be implemented in fine furniture design. It has a softer texture to it, giving it smooth-looking furniture. This tree's wood is also very appealing. It features a beautiful grain with numerous knots, and swirls become noticeable after carving and polishing. The wood of the tree is normally dark brown, but purple and even green varieties can be seen in the wild.

Indian rosewood woods can be used in many different forms aside from furniture, it can also be used in creating musical instruments, such as guitars and piano! Due to the colours and strength, it can be easily carved out into items such as chess pieces, pens, and even flooring.

Medicinal uses:

Indian rosewood can be used and consumed, depending on the parts of the tree. Each part serves different purposes in mitigating different illnesses found. The shisham oil found within the plants can help in reducing skin disease if it's been applied using the right amount of oil. Consuming the bark powder, diluting it with water, and going through the decoction of the bark powder, helps with abnormal bleeding, body pain, sciatic, etc. The leaves of Indian rosewood helps with eye pain by putting a drop of boiled Indian rosewood leaves. Decoction of leaves and drinking it twice a day helps with painful urination and blood purifications.

Environmental uses:

Since Indian rosewood is considered under the Fabaceae family, it consists of nitrogen-fixing properties that help with soil fertility and retain soil moisture. Therefore, Indian rosewood helps with the absorption of Nitrogen, with a percentage of 78% in the breathable air around us, and turns them into usable forms such as Nitrate, nitrites, and ammonia. These help with the growing structure of the plants and the plants surrounded by them.

International awareness

Indian rosewood is protected under the Indian Forest Act, whereby exporting of logs and sawn timber is considered illegal and is banned. It is also listed as "Vulnerable" in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The tree species is standing on the thin thread as it is close to extinction. Henceforth, botanists are doing what they can in ensuring that the species is being monitored closely and will not go into extinction anytime soon.

The beauty of nature. I think we all can agree with the wonders of nature, how selfless they can be by giving us all the things we need to survive on this planet.

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