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ative Photo: Tabish
Common name: Sal • Hindi: साल Sal, Salwa, Sakhu, Sakher • Marathi: sal, guggilu, rala, sajara • Tamil: attam, venkungiliyam, kungiliyam • Malayalam: karimaruthu, kungiliyam, maramaram • Kannada: ಬಿಳಿಬೋವು Bilibovu, ಬಿಳಿಬೋಗಿ Bilibogi, ಸಾಲ Saala, ಶಾಲ, ಶಾಳ Shaala, ಅಶ್ವಕರ್ಣ Ashvakarna, ಆಚ Aacha • Nepali: अग्राख Agraakh, साल Saal, सखुवा Sakhuwaa • Bengali: Sal • Oriya: Sargi gatcho • Urdu: Ral, Safed dammar • Assamese: Sal, Hal • Khasi: Dieng blei • Sanskrit: अग्निवल्लभ Agnivallabha, अश्वकर्ण Ashvakarna,अश्वकर्णिका Ashvakarnika, शाल Shaala
Botanical name: Shorea robusta    Family: Dipterocarpaceae (Sal family)
Synonyms: Dryobalanops robusta

Sal is moderate to slow growing tree, which can grow up to 30-35 m tall, with a trunk diameter of up to 2-2.5 m. The bark of the young tree is smooth with a few long deep and vertical furrows. The leaves are ovate-oblong, 10-25 cm long and 5-15 cm broad. In wetter areas, it is evergreen; in drier areas, it is dry-season deciduous, shedding most of the leaves in between February to April, leafing out again in April and May. The sal flowers, whitish in color, appear in early summer. These are borne in raceme-like panicles in leaf axils, covered with white pubescence. In Buddhist tradition, it is said that Guatama Buddha was born under the branches of this tree while his mother was en route to birth him in his grandfather's kingdom. Sal is one of the most important sources of hardwood timber in India, with hard, coarse-grained wood that is light in colour when freshly cut, and becoming dark brown with exposure. The wood is resinous and durable, and is sought after for construction, although not well suited to planing and polishing. Sal trees are found from Burma in the East, to Assam, Bengal, Nepal, the Deccan Plateau, going up to the foothills of the Shivaliks on the left bank of the Yamuna river. Flowering: April-May.

Identification credit: Tabish Photographed in Malli, Darjeeling distt.

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