Tung Tree
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Tung Tree
ntroduced Photo: Krishan Lal
Common name: Tung Tree, Tung Oil Tree, Chinese wood-oil-tree • Mizo: Tungte-chi
Botanical name: Vernicia fordii    Family: Euphorbiaceae (Castor family)
Synonyms: Aleurites fordii

Tung Tree is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree growing up to 20 m tall, with a spreading crown. The bark is smooth and thin, and bleeds latex if cut. The leaves are alternate, simple, 4.5-25 cm long and 3.5-22 cm broad, heart-shaped or occasionally with three shallow, maple-like lobes, green above and below, red conspicuous glands at the base of the leaf, and with a 5.5-26 cm long stalk. The flowers are 2.5-3.5 cm diameter, with five pale pink to purple petals with streaks of darker red or purple in the throat. The tree is monoecious with individual flowers either male or female, but produced together in the inflorescences. The flowers appear before or with the leaves in loose, terminal clusters. The fruit is a hard, woody pear-shaped drupe 4-6 cm long and 3-5 cm diameter, containing four or five large, oily seeds; it is green initially, becoming dull brown when ripe in autumn. Tung Tree is native to southern China, Burma, and northern Vietnam. The tree is valued for tung oil, which is derived from the seeds of the tree. Tung oil, also called China wood oil or nut oil, has traditionally been used in lamps in China. In modern times, it is used as an ingredient in paint, varnish, and caulk.

Identification credit: Krishan Lal Photographed in Sirmaur Distt, Himachal Pradesh.

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