FoI
Doon Cheesewood   
Foto info
Doon Cheesewood
ative Photo: Amber Srivastava
Common name: Doon Cheesewood, Himalayan Cheese wood, Indian Cheese wood • Garhwali: मेदा थुमरी Meda Thumri, रडुथियो Raduthiyo • Hindi: Agni अग्नि
Botanical name: Pittosporum eriocarpum    Family: Pittosporaceae (Pittosporum family)

Doon Cheesewood is an evergreen handsome shrub or a small tree, easily differentiated from other Pittosporum species by its velvet-hairy young leaves and fruits. This is a highly threatened and rare species, confined only to a small region in Uttarakhand. The tree may grow up to 6.5 m tall and a 1.2 m girth. Cultivated specimens may grow much bigger. Plants growing under unfavorable conditions usually become shrubs. The tree is more or less characterized with nearly whorled spreading branches and stout twigs with white or pale velvety hairs. at least when young. Bark is smooth, silvery grey or pale-brown, very thin, with prominent small raised warts. Blaze is soft with rather short fibre, white and sometimes yellowish-brown towards the exterior. Leaves are loosely crowded towards the ends of branches, very variable in size and shape, mostly broadly obovate, obovate-oblong. They are 6-18 x 3-9 cm, pointed or shortly tapering, entire, rather leathery with dense white or brownish velvet hairs on both surfaces when young; upper surface tending to become hairless and dark glossy green on maturity. Main lateral nerves are rather prominent beneath, about 8-16 pairs, stalks 1.0-2.8 cm long. Flowers are borne in short paniculate corymb-like clusters on peduncles 4-6 cm long. Flowers are pale yellow, 7-8 mm long, on 0.5-1.5 mm long stalks. Sepals are lanceshaped, densely velvet-hairy. Petals are 5, free, erect, recurved at the top. Stamens are erect, filaments subulate, anthers 2-celled, bursting inwards by slits. Ovary is densely covered with long silky hairs, style short, stigma prominent. Fruit is a capsule heavily velvety when young, mature capsule yellow and very smooth, 0.8-1.6 cm in diameter, broader than long, tipped with the persistent style. Doon Cheesewood As the species is at the verge of extinction, most of the natives have forgotten the plant and also its uses. However, in olden days, when the plant was common in the forest, different parts of it were used for various purposes by the natives. Young twigs and leaves provide one of the best fodder for cattle, goats and sheep, and they were extensively lopped in the past and even today by villagers for this purpose; thus brining the plant in danger zone. Doon Cheesewood is found in NW Himalayas, Dehradun, Mussoorie hills, Jeullikot in Nainital, Chamba, and Mandi distt in Himachal. Flowering: March-April.
Medicinal uses: The bark is aromatic, when freshly cut, and is said to possess narcotic properties. It was used locally in chronic bronchitis and as an antidote to snake poison. The plant yields an essential oil, which was used as a tonic, stimulant, and was considered specific for certain skin diseases. The oil was also applied by natives as in rheumatism, chest affections, sprains and bruises. Wood was mainly used as fuel and also for making small toys.

Identification credit: Amber Srivastava Photographed in Sahastradhara, Dehradun, Uttarakhand.

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