Calophyllum inophyllum (L.)

Botanical features Surahonne

Geographical district:

It is widely distributed across the tropical regions of the pacific islands. It is native to Australia, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Laos, Madagascar, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Myanmar, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Reunion, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Province of China, Thailand, Tonga, Vanuatu and Vietnam. It is exotic to Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda and United States of America.

Distribution in India:

The tree is mainly distributed in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.


Kingdom : Plantae Genus Calophyllum
Order : Malpighiales Species Calophyllum inophyllum (L.)
Family: : Clusiaceae

Commonly known as nagachampa, punnaga, punnai, honne. Calophyllum is a very large genus comprising about 190 species.

Botanical description:

Habit and Habitat:surahonne1

It is a medium to large sized evergreen tree. The tree is 8–20 m in height. It has a broad spreading crown. It grows in warm temperature in wet or moderate conditions. It grows in a wide range of soils. It grows best in sandy well drained soils in coastal areas. It is tolerant to wind, salt spray, drought and brief periods of water logging. It grows at an altitude of  up to 500 m with  an annual rainfall ranging from about 1000 to 5000 mm and an annual temperature of 7-18°C to 37-48°C.

Root System:

The root system is woody, shallow, spreading in nature since the trees are adapted to shallow and occasionll flooded soils along the coasts.


The tree bears large horizontal branches. The bark is grey in colour with deep fissures alternating with flat ridges. Sap is milky white. The trunks of oil trees can grow up to 1 m in diameter. The tree canopy is dense, so preventing the growth of other plants underneath.


The leaves are arranged opposite. They are dark green, shiny and hairless with broadly elliptical blades (10-20 cm long and 6-9 cm wide. The tip and base of the leaf are round. Leaf veins are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the midrib.

surahonne2Floral Biology:

Young tree beings to flower after 6-7 years. Flower cluster bears 4-15 flowers (2.5 cm across and 8-14 mm long) on the stalks of leaf axils, occur in axillary, racemose or paniculate infloresence. Flowers are usually bisexual but sometimes functionally unisexual, with perianth of 4-8 oblong petals in several whorls. The flowers are pollinated by insects such as bees.

surahonne3Formation and development of fruits:

The outer skin turns yellow and then brown when the fruit is ripe. At the stage of maturity it becomes wrinkled. The outer skin covers the thin pulp, the shell, corky inner layer and a seed.


surahonne4Fruit and Seed:

The fruits are round in shape, light green fruit seen in clusters. Fruits are 2-5 cm in diameter. Seeds are brown in colour (2-4 cm in diameter).  Seeds posses large cotyledons and radical pointing to the base of the fruit

Crop improvement

Tree improvement program involves identification of superior quality trees with respect to seed yield and oil content. Collection of seeds and evaluation of elite characters of the tree for three consecutive years. Maintenance of germplasm for further studies on variability and tree improvement programs.

Cultivation aspects


Thick, hard shells of the fruit can cause delay in germination therefore shelling the seed before germination is recommended. Shelled seeds usually have a germination rate greater than 90%. Seeds are recalcitrant, since seeds are oily they quickly lose their germinative power.


Natural propogation occurs near the mother tree. Propogation through germination has been successful in Calophyllum and development of propogation techniques for superior quality genotypes is necessary. Wedge grafting of superior genotypes have been standardized. Pruning of the tree is essential during every

Pest and disease: In adult trees leaves and shoots are susceptible to attack by various insects and fungus rot. The fungus Fomes dochmius causes brown cuboidal rot in the plants. Trees are affected by a vascular wilt disease caused by the fungus Leptographium calophylli, which causes severe die-back and ultimately death of the tree. The beetle Cryphalus trypanus is the likely vector of the pathogen.


Chemical constituents show the existence of wide variety of natural products, such as pyranocoumarins, xanthones, triterpenes and flavonoids, Root bark and nut of calophyllum inophyllum consists of xanthone derivatives namely inoxanthone. From the twigs of plant prenylated xanthones, namely caloxanthones were recorded


Callophyllum protects coastlines and stabilizes dunes, and the dense foliage shelters more sensitive plants from salt spray. The tree is planted for shade, reforestation, afforestation programs.


Oil is used for cosmetic and healing of burns and skin disease. The latex or a decotion of the bark is used as a lotion for ulcers. Decotion of the root is employed for dressing ulcers and also for application in heatstroke. The active principles possessed various bioactivities such as anti-HIV-1, anti-microbial, and cytotoxic activities.


The wood is used for posts, beams, furniture, railway carriages, crane shafts, musical instruments and blowpipes. It is employed in ship building especially for keels and for pulley blocks. It is also used for fishing boats, cabinet work. Latex from the cut bark has been made into a poison to kill rodents and stun fish. Bark contains tannins used to toughen fish nets.


A decoction of the leaves is used to treat eye ailments. Leaves contain saponin and hydrocyanic acid which is poisonous to fish.


Oil from seeds are used as lamp oil. It may be used as massage for hair oil when scented. It is used as wood finish. In rheumatism and infections of the skin oil is applied externally. Refined oil is injected intramuscularly to relive pain in leprosy. Oil has also shown anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial and insecticidal activity.


Calophyllum oil and biodiesel

Press Cake: The press cake could be used for manurial purpose.