Economically Important Indian Copal Tree Faces Threat of Extinction | TechGape

Economically Important Indian Copal Tree Faces Threat of Extinction

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Economically Important Indian Copal Tree Faces Threat of Extinction

Indian Copal Tree is a plant of immense economic importance. The timber of the tree is used in manufacturing of matches and plywood. The bark is used in Gur industry. The oil extracted from the seeds of the plant is used in manufacture of candles, soaps and cosmetics. The resin secreted from the tree trunk is used in varnishes, candles, ointments and incense. Resin is considered tonic, carminative and expectorant and is used against chronic bronchitis and throat troubles, piles, diarrhoea, rheumatism, infected wounds, earache and boils. However, today this valuable tree species is facing threat of extinction due to tree harvesting and habitat loss.
Economically Important Indian Copal Tree Faces Threat of Extinction 

-Dr. Arvind Singh 

Indian Copal Tree also known as ‘White Damar’, ‘Piney Varnish’ and ‘Malabar Tallow’ is a tree species endemic to the Western Ghats of India. It is scientifically known as Vateria indica and belongs to the Dipterocarpaceae family of the flowering plants. In Hindi the Indian Copal Tree is known as Kharuba and Badasal while in Sanskrit it is known as Ajkarna. Furthermore, in Malayalam the plant is known as Baine, Kunturukkam and Paenoe, in Tamil as Painimaram and Dhupa maram and in Kannada as Bilagaggala, Damar and Dhupa mara.

Indian Copal Tree
Due to small population size, Indian Copal Tree is listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ in the Red List of Threatened Species of International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Critically endangered species are those which are facing threat of extinction in wild in immediate future.

Indian Copal Tree is a slow growing large evergreen tree reaching a maximum height of about 60 m. The bark of the tree is smooth and grey in colour. Young branchlets are round and hairy and exude a resinous substance. The leaves of the tree are simple, petiolate and are spirally arranged. The fragrant white flowers are borne in branched clusters. The pale brown fruit is capsule type and contain a single seed.

Indian Copal Tree is found in South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. It is a constituent tree species of wet evergreen forest of south-western Western Ghats which is extremely rich in biological diversity. This tree species is found from lowland forests to elevation of up to 1200 m. The flowering in the tree starts between January and March and the fruit ripen from May to July.

Indian Copal Tree is a plant of immense economic importance. The timber of the tree is used in manufacturing of matches and plywood. The bark is used in Gur industry. The oil obtained from the seeds of the plant is used in manufacture of candles, soaps and cosmetics. The resin secreted from the tree trunk is commercially known as white damar or dhupa is used in varnishes, candles, ointments and incense. The resin is extracted by scratching the tree bark.

Resin of the tree is medicinally important and is known as Sarja rasa in Ayurveda and Vellai Kungiliyam in Siddha. Thus the resin of the tree finds its use in traditional system of disease treatments like Ayurvda and Siddha. Resin is considered tonic, carminative and expectorant and is used in the treatment of chronic bronchitis and throat troubles, piles, diarrhoea, rheumatism, infected wounds, earache and boils. Kungiliya parpam is a Siddha preparation from resin of Indian Copal Tree is effective in the treatment of urinary tract disorders. Resin also possess anti-cancer properties. The bark of the tree is used in the treatment of malaria.

Over-exploitation and habitat loss are the two main threats to the Indian Copal Tree. The tree is harvested since colonial India for its timber. Habitat loss of the species is basically due to clearance of forests for agriculture and plantations.

Conservation of this economically tree species can be achieved through:

i. Checking the habitat loss ii. Restoring the degraded habitats iii. Putting complete ban on harvesting of live trees; and iv. Motivating the local people for plantation of the tree species

Finally it can be concluded that Indian Copal Tree is a plant of immense economic value which is facing threat of extinction due to tree harvesting and habitat loss. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to conserve this valuable tree species for the maintenance of biodiversity and environmental stability, and to ensure the fulfillment of the need of future generation.
-X-X-X-X-X-
Dr. Arvind Singh is M. Sc. and Ph. D. in Botany with area of specialization in Ecology. He is a dedicated Researcher having more than four dozens of published research papers in the journals of national and international repute. His main area of research is Restoration of Mined Lands. However, he has also conducted research on the Vascular Flora of Banaras Hindu University Main Campus, Varanasi (India). Furthermore, he is also an active science writer having more than 10 dozens of published science articles in different periodicals of national repute. His email address is: keywords: copal tree sap, copal tree photo, copal tree resin, copal tree, copal amba, copal incense, copal definition,

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TechGape: Economically Important Indian Copal Tree Faces Threat of Extinction
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Economically Important Indian Copal Tree Faces Threat of Extinction
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