Common name: Indian rosewood, Shisham शीशम (Hindi), Sissu (Manipuri), Sitral (Bengali)
Botanical name: Dalbergia sissoo Family: Fabaceae (pea family)
Shisham is a medium to large deciduous tree, native to India,
with a light crown which reproduces by seeds and suckers. It can grow up to a
maximum of 25 m in height and 2 to 3 m 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 long. Flowers are whitish to
pink, fragrant, nearly sessile, up to 1.5 cm long and in dense clusters 5-10
cm in length. Pods are oblong, flat, thin, strap-like 4-8 cm long, 1 cm wide,
and light brown. They contain 1-5 flat bean-shaped seeds 8-10 mm long. They
have a long taproot and numerous surface roots which produce suckers.
It is primarily found growing along river banks below 900 m
elevation, but can range naturally up to 1300 m. Shisham is
best known internationally as a premier timber species of the rosewood genus.
However, Shisham is also an important fuel wood, shade, and shelter. With its
multiple products, 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 in India, planted on roadsides, and as a shade
tree for tea plantations.
Medicinal uses: Decoction of leaves is useful in gonorrhoea. Root
is astringent. Wood is alterative, useful in leprosy, boils, eruptions and to