Regularity: Regularly occurring
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Dalbergia sissoo
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Dalbergia sissoo
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 21
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
Dalbergia sissoo, known commonly as Indian Rosewood, is a deciduous rosewood tree, also known as sisu, sheesham, tahli, Tali and also Irugudujava. It is native to the Indian Subcontinent and Southern Iran. In Persian, it is called Jag. It is the state tree of Punjab state (India) and the provincial tree of Punjab province (Pakistan). It is primarily found growing along river banks below 900 metres (3,000 ft) elevation, but can range naturally up to 1,300 m (4,300 ft). The temperature in its native range averages 10–40 °C (50–104 °F), but varies from just below freezing to nearly 50 °C (122 °F). It can withstand average annual rainfall up to 2,000 millimetres (79 in) and droughts of 3–4 months. Soils range from pure sand and gravel to rich alluvium of river banks; shisham can grow in slightly saline soils. Seedlings are intolerant of shade.
Shisham is best known internationally as a premier timber species of the rosewood genus, but is also used as fuel wood and for shade and shelter. With its multiple products and tolerance of light frosts and long dry seasons, this species deserves greater consideration for tree farming, reforestation and agro forestry applications. After teak, it is the most important cultivated timber tree of Bihar, which is the largest producer of shisham timber in India. In Bihar, the tree is planted on roadsides, along canals and as a shade tree for tea plantations. It is also commonly planted in southern Indian cities like Bangalore as a street tree.
Shisham is among the finest cabinet and veneer timbers. It is the wood from which 'Kartaals', the Rajasthani percussion instrument, are often made. In addition to musical instruments, it is used for plywood, agricultural tools, carvings, boats, skis, flooring, etc.
The heartwood is golden to dark brown; the sapwood, white to pale brownish white. The heartwood is extremely durable (the specific gravity is 0.7 – 0.8) and is very resistant to dry-wood termites; but the sapwood is readily attacked by fungi and borers. Dalbergia sissoo is known to contain the neoflavonoid dalbergichromene in its stem-bark and heartwood.
The calorific value of both the sapwood and heartwood is 'excellent', being reported to be 4,908 kcal/kg and 5,181 kcal/kg respectively. As a fuel wood it is grown on a 10 to 15-year rotation. The tree has excellent coppicing ability, although a loss of vigor after two or three rotations has been reported. Shisham wood makes excellent charcoal for heating and cooking.
D. sissoo is a medium to large deciduous tree with a light crown which reproduces by seeds and suckers. It can grow up to a maximum of 25 m (82 ft) in height and 2 to 3 m (6 ft 7 in to 9 ft 10 in) in diameter, but is usually smaller. Trunks are often crooked when grown in the open. Leaves are leathery, alternate, pinnately compound and about 15 cm (5.9 in) long. Flowers are whitish to pink, fragrant, nearly sessile, up to 1.5 cm (0.59 in) long and in dense clusters 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in) in length. Pods are oblong, flat, thin, strap-like 4–8 cm (1.6–3.1 in) long, 1 cm (0.39 in) wide and light brown. They contain 1–5 flat bean-shaped seeds 8–10 mm (0.31–0.39 in) long. They have a long taproot and numerous surface roots which produce suckers. Young shoots are downy and drooping; established stems with light brown to dark gray bark to 2.5 cm (0.98 in) thick, shed in narrow strips; large upper branches support a spreading crown.
Propagation takes place most commonly by root suckers and also by seeds. The seeds remain viable for only a few months. Seeds should be soaked in water for 48 hours before sowing and 60% – 80% germination can be expected in 1–3 weeks. Seedlings require partial sun or full sun.
- S. K. Mukerjee, T. Saroja & T. R. Seshadri (1971). "Dalbergichromene : a new neoflavonoid from stem-bark and heartwood of Dalbergia sissoo". Tetrahedron 27 (4): 799–803. doi:10.1016/S0040-4020(01)92474-3.
- Adenusi A. A. & Odaibo A. B. (2009). "Effects of varying concentrations of the crude aqueous and ethanolic". African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative medicines 6(2). abstract, PDF.
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The Simsapa tree (Pali: siṃsapā) is mentioned in ancient Buddhist discourses traditionally believed to have been delivered 2,500 years ago. The tree has been identified as either Dalbergia sissoo, a rosewood tree common to India and southeast Asia, or Amherstia nobilis, another South Asian tree, of the family Caesalpiniaceae.
Buddhist scriptural references
In Buddhism's Pali Canon, there is a discourse entitled, "The Simsapa Grove" (SN 56.31). This discourse is described as having been delivered by the Buddha to monks while dwelling beneath a simsapa grove in the city of Kosambi. In this discourse, the Buddha compares a few simsapa leaves in his hand with the number of simsapa leaves overhead in the grove to illustrate what he teaches (in particular, the Four Noble Truths) and what he does not teach (things unrelated to the holy life).
- ^ For example, Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 708, entry for "Siŋsapā" (retrieved 17 Nov 2008 from "U. Chicago" at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.4:1:104.pali) associates the simsapa tree with "Dalbergia sisu."
- ^ The Pali Canon is the main scriptural source for Theravada Buddhism and is at least nominally incorporated in the canons of other branches of Buddhism as well.
- ^ Bodhi (2000), pp. 1857-58; Thanissaro (1997); and, Walshe (1985), sutta 68. Note that in an endnote to this sutta (n. 313), Walshe states that this tree is "also known as the Asoka tree."
- ^ Walshe (1987), p. 351. This discourse is said to have been given in Kosala.
- ^ Thanissaro (1999). This discourse is said to have been given near Alavi.
- ^ For both canonical and post-canonical references, see Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 708, entry for "Siŋsapā" (retrieved 17 Nov 2008 from "U. Chicago" at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.4:1:104.pali).
- Bodhi, Bhikkhu (trans., ed.) (2000). The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya. Boston: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-331-1.
- Rhys Davids, T.W. & William Stede (eds.) (1921-5). The Pali Text Society’s Pali–English Dictionary. Chipstead: Pali Text Society. A general on-line search engine for the PED is available at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/pali/.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1997). Simsapa Sutta: The Simsapa Leaves (SN 56.31). Retrieved 16 Nov 2008 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.031.than.html.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1999). Hatthaka Sutta: To Hatthaka (on Sleeping Well in the Cold Forest) (excerpt) (AN 3.34). Retrieved 16 Nov 2008 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.034.than.html.
- Walshe, Maurice O'C. (trans.) (1985). Samyutta Nikaya: An Anthology (Part III) (Wheel Nos. 318-321). Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society. Retrieved 16 Nov 2008 from "Access to Insight" (2007) at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/walshe/wheel318.html.
- Walshe, Maurice (1987/1995). The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya. Boston: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-103-3.
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