Ceylon Ironwood Tree / Nangu

Mesua ferrea



General Information :

  • This is an evergreen, large and glabrous tree.
  • Bark is smooth and ash reddish brown in color.
  • Leaves are red when young, later turn glossy green in color.
  • Flowers are fragrant white in color.
  • Fruits are ovoid woody, greenish in color
  • Seeds are chestnut-brown and flattened on one side.

Distribution :

  • It is common in Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu.

Habitat : Tropical wet Evergreen and Semi- Evergreen Forest.

Soil : The plant requires well drained and deep fertile soil, stiff clay soil.

Soil pH : 4.3 – 6.9

Altitude :Above 600 m (MSL)

Rainfall :2000 - 500mm

Temperature : 24 - 45°c

Terrain : Plains/gentle slopes

Tree Characteristics :
  • It is a strong shade bearer, particularly when young and this makes it a valuable component of the middle storied tree in forests.
  • It is susceptible to frost and drought.

Habit : Evergreen Tree

Planting Guidelines

Natural Regeneration :


  • Naturally regenerates profusely, due to abundant seeding and its capacity to       withstand shade.

Artificial Regeneration :

  • Propagated by direct seed sowing and Nursery Raised seedlings.

Seed collection and Storage :

  • The fruits are collected during December – January
  • Collected fruits are dried in sun to separate the seed.
  • The seeds are stored in gunny bags for 5 month.
  • Viability of the seeds is very low.
  • Germination capacity is 55 – 95 %
  • Plant percent is 46-70
  • Seed rate is 450-1200/ kg.

Seed Treatment :

  • Cold water treatment for 24 hours.

Nursery Technique :

  • The fresh seeds are dibbled in shaded Mother bed.
  • The beds are water regularly and kept weed free.
  • The germination starts after 10 days and completes in 2 months.
  • Two leaf stage seedlings are pricked in poly bags and maintained in nursery for one year.

Plantation technique :

  Direct Sowing :  

  • Direct sowing under slight shelter shows better results.
  Nursery Raised seedlings :  
  • One year old nursery raised seedlings are adopted for planting.
  • The seedlings are planted in the second rains in pit of 30 cm 3 at an espacement of 1.8 m X 1.8m

Care & Disease Control :

  • Constant weeding is necessary for a period of 2 years.
  • Thinning is necessary under artificial regeneration till the plants are established.

Irrigation :

For proper growth and survival it is necessary to give one or two waterings after planting. This is specifically required in arid regions. Irrigation after planting is not a prerequisite in areas having sufficient soil moisture and precipitation. Higher survival rate and better rate of growth is reported when soil and water conservation measures are also adopted.

Recommended Harvest :

  • 18 - 20 years.

Yield :

  • Increment of 0.25 m /year/tree

Agro Forestory :

  • Annuals crops viz. Ginger, Turmeric, Aloe, Pineapple etc. can be grown as intercrops during first 3 to 4 years of growth.

Major uses :

  • The wood is moderately durable; resistant to termites and insects;
  • The wood is used for heavy construction (posts, beams, rafters, joists, columns) and heavy duty flooring and furniture
  • It is also used for joinery, cabinet work, tool handles, agricultural implements, vehicles and boat building.

Other uses :

Bark acts as tonic after childbirth and also   useful in anemia.Bark and unripe fruit are sudorific. Leaf and flower are antidysenteric. Flower acts as stomachic, expectorant and used in piles & burning of the feet.Seed oil  is antirheumatic and used in skin diseases.  agricultural implements, rollers for mills, carving, rulers, and other products.