Kusum tree, The lac tree

Scheichera oleosa(Lour) Oken



General Information :

•    Kusum is most important host tree for cultivation of lac.•    It is medium sized to large deciduous tree with smooth grey bark.•    Leaves compound dark green in color.•    Flowers minute yellowish green in color.•    Fruits globose hard with 1-2 brown colored seeds.

Distribution :

The tree is mostly distributed in Southern India.

Habitat : Deciduous Forest.

Soil : Sandy loam and sandy soil

Soil pH : 5.5-7

Altitude :Up to 1,200 m

Rainfall :1,200 - 2,300mm

Temperature : 30 - 42°c

Terrain : Plains/Hilly

Tree Characteristics :
  • Frost and Drought hardy.

Habit : Deciduous tree

Planting Guidelines

Natural Regeneration :

  • It is propagated by seed and root suckers.

Artificial Regeneration :

  • Propagated by direct sowing and Nursery raised seedlings.

Seed collection and Storage :

•    The ripe fruits are collected in July-August. •    Dried in sun, thrashed and seeds are separated and stored in gunny bags.•    The seeds rate is 1500-2200 / Kg•    Fresh seeds give 80-90% germination.

Seed Treatment :

  • No Seed treatment is required.

Nursery Technique :

•    Seeds are sown in mother bed during March – April.•    Germination stats in a week and complete in a month.•    Beds are regularly watered and weeded.•    3-4 months old nursery raised seedlings are fit for planting.

Plantation technique :

Direct Sowing :•    Plantation area should be ploughed thoroughly.•    Fresh seeds are sown during the onset of monsoon.•    Sowing in line spaced about 3m apart or in patches 3 m x 3 m•    Seeds should be well covered with soil.Stump Planting•    Stumps with about 23 cm of root and 5 cm of shoot are planted out during the onset of monsoon.•    Pit Size 30 cm3•    Spacing adopted 5 m x 5 m

Care & Disease Control :

•    Periodical weeding and soil working is necessary.

Recommended Harvest :

  • 10-25 years.

Yield :

  • 150-170 tons/ha.

Major uses :

•    The wood is commonly used in oil and sugar mill, rice pounders, huds and axles and agricultural implements.•    It is excellent charcoal and fuel wood.•    Leaves and twigs are lopped for fodder to cattle.•    As a Lac host, it yeils finest quality of lac, called Kusmi lac.

Other uses :

Oil : An oil extracted from the seed, called 'kusum oil', is a valuable component of true Macassar oil used in hairdressing. It is also used for lighting purposes. The oil is also used in the batik industry, and in southern India, as a cooling bath oil.   

Market details :

  • Approximately Rs.1500 to Rs.2000/ Kg.