Sappan wood/Pathimukham

Caesalpinia sappan



General Information :

  • Shrub by tree up to 10 m tall
  • Bark greyish brown; 
  • Young twigs and buds hairy brownish.
  • Leaves dark green in color.

Distribution :

  • Sappan wood belongs to the same genus as Brazil wood. It is cultivated in all parts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andra Pradesh and West Bengal.

Habitat : It prefers a sub tropical climate to tropical climate.

Soil : Under natural conditions Caesalpinia sappan grows mostly in hilly areas with clayey soil and calcareous rocks at low and medium altitudes

Altitude :1000m

Rainfall :700–4300 mm

Temperature : 24–28°C

Terrain : It grows mostly in hilly areas

Tree Characteristics :
  • Strong light demander and intolerant of suppression.
  • Drought resistant,very hardy.
  • The trees are very hardy to injuries and do not die untill in contrast to most of th forest trees whn gridled.

Habit : Tropical moist deciduous and Tropical forest.

Planting Guidelines

Natural Regeneration :

  • Naturally Propagated by seed.

Artificial Regeneration :

  • Propagated  by seedlings and cuttings

Seed collection and Storage :

  • .The mature pods are collected in the month April-May
  • Mature pods burst open in the dry season
  • The seeds are removed from pod by bursted out the pod.
  • The seeds can be stored for 2-3 months in gunny bags.
  • Germination rate is 90%.

Seed Treatment :

  • Pods are gathered, pounded and put into cold water. 
  • Seed germination occurs readily but is enhanced by dipping seeds wrapped in cotton cloth in boiling water for 5 seconds.

Nursery Technique :

  • Seeds can be sown directly on mother beds in patches and cover lightly with soil in rainy season. 
  • If fresh seeds are sown 90 to 100 percent germination can be achieved. 
  • Partial shade is necessary for initial establishment of seedlings. 
  • The weeding and watering should be in regular interval for certain period. 
  • The cuttings from the species can be used in nursery. 
  • The semi-hard wood cuttings are mostly suitable for nursery management. 
  • Cuttings are dipped in IBA and then planted in the nursery bed.

Plantation technique :

  • Seedlings are planted 1 x 2 meters apart for windbreaks and at 2 x 2 meters in plantations. 
  • For shade trees, spacing varies from 5 to 10 meters, depending on the companion crop and site.

Care & Disease Control :

  • Pruning and tipping of the tree as on when required.

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 :


  • The main branches along with the stump are harvested.
  • Seeds can be harvested right from the second year of planting but the heartwood is ready only after 6-12 years.

Yield :

  • Average yield of inner pulp is about 80kg/tree.
  • An yield of 2000-2500kg of pods may be obtained, which inturn may yield 200-250 kg seeds per hectare.
  • The harvested wood is chipped into pieces and the dye is extracted boiling them in water. 

Agro Forestory :

  • The tree is often planted as a living fence.
  • Owing to its easy growth and dense growth habit, it is used for defining the boundaries of land and for protecting plantations against grazing animals

Major uses :

  • The heartwood yields a valuable red crystalline dye used on cotton, silk and wool fabrics. 
  • Bark and pods yield similar dyes, 40% tannin used for production of light leather goods.
  • Roots give a yellow dye. 
  • Sappan yields different shades of red with or without mordant which are  frequently used to increase the binding potential of the dye
  • The fruits contain tannin and were used in the past to prepare a black dye in combination with an iron mordant.
  • The wood has been used in cabinet-making since mediaeval times, especially for inlay decoration. It also is a good source of firewood.
  • Caesalpinia sappan is often planted as a living fence and ornamental.
  • Owing to its easy growth and dense growth habit, it is used for defining the boundaries of land and for protecting plantations against grazing animals.
  • The leaves can be used to hasten ripening of fruits such as bananas and mangoes.

Market details :


  • Expected quantity of heart wood - 25 to 50Kg per plant
  • Total expecting weight - 25Kg x 1000nos. = 25,000Kg
  • Present market value - Rs.70 per Kg
  • Expected Total Outcome (7 years maturity) - Rs. 17,50,000 per acre