Tree information

Local name: 

kutmiro (कुटमिरो)

Genus: 

Litsea

Species: 

monopetala

Author: 

(Roxb.) Pers.

Family: 

Lauraceae

Evergreen. Leaves broadly elliptic, 9-24 cm by 5-11 cm, apex blunt or with a small point. Flowers densely hairy, in dense clusters. Fruit about 7 mm long, borne on a cup, on slender stalk 9-12 mm long.

Characteristics

A medium-sized tree. It does best on loamy soil, but has succeeded on gentle slopes facing southwest, with stony impoverished soil (Schaltenbrand, 1982). It can tolerate light frost.

Occurrence

From the Terai to 1450 m, in Shorea robusta forest and tropical evergreen forest. Outside Nepal its range extends from Kumaon to Sikkim, Bangladesh, Burma and southwest China.

Artificial regeneration

In most trials growth of young trees has been relatively slow. At Chalnakhel (1370 m) in a cultivated, weeded and fertilized trial, heights averaged only 40 cm after 18 months, compared with 2.6 m for L. cubeba (Napier and Parajuli 1987). These results at Chalnakhel are, unusually, poorer than those from other trials, where between 60 and 80 cm have been recorded for this age, while near Pokhara (900 m) mean heights were 1.1 m at 17 months and 1.8 m at 34 months (van der Dool, 1987). In India trees in natural forest had mean annual diameter increments of between 0.8 and 2.5 cm.

The seed ripens between late May and early August, according to the locality; there are about 5300 seeds kg-1. It is recalcitrant, losing its viability very rapidly, and should be sown as soon as possible after collection, after removal of the flesh. The fruit is black when ripe, but slightly unripe fruit also contain viable seeds; the green fruit may be left for a day or two to turn black, and then the seed can be removed (Kessler, 1981). Germination of fresh seed is usually fairly good, up to 62 per cent.

Germination usually begins two weeks after sowing, and is complete within two weeks. The seed can be sown directly into pots: in holes made the size of the seed, and covered by 3-4 mm of soil. An alternative, especially where rodents are a problem, is to sow the seed in beds or trays protected by wire mesh, and to prick the seedlings out into polypots when they have 2-4 primary leaves: 7.5 cm x 10 cm lay-flat pots should be used, with a good potting mixture containing 20-25 per cent compost. The seedlings should be shaded for 2-4 weeks after pricking out; otherwise shade is unnecessary except for protection against heavy rain, and in winter at night, if there is a danger of frost.

Owing to the short viability of the seed the seedlings must remain 11-14 months in the nursery, by which time they should have reached a height of between 20-35 cm, and a root-collar diameter of more than 3.5 mm. Wildings have been used successfully in Dolakha District.

Importance in Nepal

In many parts of Nepal it is one of the most important fodder trees. The leaves contain 14-17 per cent crude protein, though its digestibility is only about 12 per cent. The metabolizable energy content is high. The tannin content is moderate, reaching a peak in February and March (Wood et al., 1992). Buffaloes allowed to feed on it ad lib, in addition to their normal ration, ate an average of 8.5 kg per day, and increased their milk yields by an average of 0.25 kg per day as a result (N.P. Shrestha and Pakhrin, 1988). Some farmers in Dhading District, however, said there were health hazards if it was fed during the time of new flushing of the leaves during the pre-monsoon period (Upadhyay, 1991).

Fodder yields in Lamjung District were estimated to average 125 kg green weight of fodder per tree annually (K.P. Gajurel et al., 1987). Against this T. J. Wormald et al. (1983) estimated annual dry leaf yield at 3 kg from trees 20 cm in diameter, 19 kg from those 30 cm in diameter, and 25 kg from those 40 cm in diameter. In Dhading District it was the most used species obtained from farmland (Upadhyay, 1991). Farmers valued it for its fast growth. high production of foliage. relatively light competition with agricultural crops. and to a lesser extent for its nutritional value. At Ratnapuri at the foot of the Siwaliks it was of minor importance; there it was lopped mainly in the post-monsoon period, but with some use at other periods of the year. In Sunderbazar, Lamjung District, it formed 9.5 per cent of the fodder trees in the village studied. and produced about nine per cent of the tree fodder consumed. The main lopping period was between mid-March and mid-May (K.P. Gajurel et al., 1987). In Rahi. Pokhara Forestry Division, it formed nearly nine per cent of the fodder trees on farmers' land; there it was lopped between September and February (Hawkins and Malla, 1983). In Dolakha District it formed three per cent of the stock of fodder trees. but was fourth in popularity among farmers, and the second most popular tree to be planted by them (Robinson and Neupane. 1988). In Lalitpur District it is mainly important between 650 and 1250 m; in February 80 per cent of farmers there were lopping it, and there was also a good deal cut in November-December. and slightly less in April (Upton, 1990). In the same district it was being planted by farmers. though on a rather small scale and with moderate to poor survival rates (Hausler, 1990). It is also an important fodder at Lumle and Pakhribas. and generally in its main range of occurrence. between 500 and 1500 m. The wood is used for agricultural implements; it weighs about 610 kg m-3.

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