Gum Karaya / Villay putali

Sterculia urens



General Information :

  • Karaya is a moderate sized deciduous tree.
  • The bark is thin papery, smooth shinning and greenish grey in color.
  • Flowers greenish yellow in color.
  • Star shaped scarlet red color fruit with 3-4 black colored seeds.

Distribution :

  • Tree is widely distributed in India.

Habitat : Tropical deciduous forests.

Soil : Occurs in red lateritic soils and dry sandy soils.

Soil pH : 6.5 and 7.5

Altitude :Up to 750 m(MSL)

Rainfall :500-1900 mm

Temperature : 40-47.5 deg C

Terrain : It prefers dry, hot exposures of rocky hills.

Tree Characteristics :
  • It is a strong light demander, drought hardy, sensitive to water-logging.

Habit : Dry Deciduous Tree

Planting Guidelines

Growth : Slow

Height : 15 m

Natural Regeneration :

  • It is naturally propagated by seeds.

Artificial Regeneration :

  • Propagated by direct sowing and entire seedlings.

Seed collection and Storage :

  • Mature pods are collected during February-March.
  • The pods dried in sun and the seeds are extracted
  • The seed rate varies from 4400-6400 / kg.
  • Germination Percentage is 50 – 100 %
  • Plant percentage are 18-90%

Seed Treatment :

  • Soaking in cold water for 6 hours.

Nursery Technique :

  • The seed is directly sown in the polybags in April - May
  • Polythene bag with filled with sandy loam soil but not heavy clay and FYM
  • Germination takes place within 7-15 days.
  • Watering should be on alternate day after germination.
  • Seedlings grow very rapidly and fit for planting out in three month.

Plantation technique :

Nursery Raised Seedlings:  

  • Three month old nursery raised seedlings are selected for planting in pit size of 30 m3.
  • Optimum Spacing adopted is 1.2 m x 1.2 m
  • The seedlings should be planted out during the onset monsoon in well drained pits or contour trenches.    
  Direst Sowing:   
  • The species is best raised by direct sowing in lines 30 cm wide and 1.8 cm apart.
  • Seeds may be sown in the patches at an espacement of 1.8 x 1.8 x 1.8 m with about 3 seeds in each patch.
  • Sowing done after the onset of monsoon.

Care & Disease Control :

Pest & Disease: Damping off may affect the seedlings. If it is noticed, 3% solution of copper fungicide in water should be sprayed on the affectd plants. Seedlings may die-back for 2-3 years in stage of planting. So the period of the establishment in the field can be reduced by applying chemical fertilizers, 25 gm of a mixture of ammonium sulphate and super phosphate per plant applied in 2 dosages, the first 10 days of planting and the seond after one month of planting.

Recommended Harvest :

  • 40-50 years

Yield :

  • Approximately 75 to 150 kg per annum.

Major uses :

  • Regular weeding and soil working is essential.
  • The most important product from the tree is Karaya Gum of  commerce which is of great demand.
  • It is used in Printing paper industries, textile cosmetics and Pharmaceutical industries.
  • The timber is suitable for making poles, rafters and tool handles.
Gum Tapping:
  • Trees having girth 90 cm and above are suitable for tapping.
  • Blazes should be made on the trees not lower than 90 cm from ground level with additional blaze for every 50 cm increase in girth.
  • The size of the blaze should be limited to 15 cm (length) X 10 cm (breadth) X 2.5-3 cm (depth).
  • The season of tapping will be from October to June

Other uses :

Medicinal The gum is used as a bulk laxative. It is not absorbed by the body, but swells up inside the gut to provide a bulk of material that gently stimulates peristalsis. The gum is also used to treat throat infections. Agroforestry Uses: A useful plant for reclaiming and reforesting bare, rocky land.

Market details :

  • Wood:  Approximately Rs.2000- Rs.2500 / ton.