Salvadora oleoides

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Local names:
Gujarati (khakan,pilava pilu,mityal), Hindi (pilava pilu,mityar,mitijal,mithivan,pilu,chootapilu,bahapilu,diar,jhal,godpilu), Tamil (kalawa,kohu,karkol)

Salvadora oleoides is a shrub or small tree, attaining 6-9 m height under favourable conditions; trunk short, often twisted or bent, up to 2 m in diameter; branches drooping, numerous, stiff, often swollen at forks; bark grey or whitish-grey.

Leaves glaucous, linear-or ovate-lanceolate, coriaceous and somewhat fleshy, dark greenish-yellow when young, grey when mature.

Flowers sessile, greenish-white, minute in paniculate spikes, often clustered; calyx cup-shaped, in 4 rounded, obtuse lobes.

Fruit a drupe, globose, about 6 cm in diameter, usually yellow when ripe, dark brown or red when dry.

Seeds greenish-yellow, about 3 mm in diameter.

The generic name was given in 1749 in honour of an apothecary of Barcelona, Juan Salvador y Bosca (1598-1681), by Dr Laurent Garcin, botanist, traveller and plant collector.

Ecology

The tree is found in the arid regions of western India and Pakistan. It suffers considerably from frost. The natural vegetation is typical of the tropical thorn forest, consisting mainly of Prosopis spicigera, S. oleoides, Capparis aphylla and Tamarix articulata. S. oleoides is highly salt tolerant and grows in coastal regions and on inland saline soils.

Native range
India, Pakistan

Tree management

S. oleoides coppices fairly well. A dense, almost impenetrable growth is formed by a parent stem surrounded by a ring of root suckers.

The tree is found in the arid regions of western India and Pakistan. It suffers considerably from frost. The natural vegetation is typical of the tropical thorn forest, consisting mainly of Prosopis spicigera, S. oleoides, Capparis aphylla and Tamarix articulata. S. oleoides is highly salt tolerant and grows in coastal regions and on inland saline soils.

The tree regenerates freely by seed and root-suckers and to some extent by natural layers.

Poison:  S. oleoides seed oil showed 100% toxicity to Anopheles stephensi at 0.01%.

S. oleoides has potential for reclamation as it regenerates freely by root suckers.

Erosion control:  The tree contributes to the stability of fragile areas.

  Fruits are sweet and edible. The pulp contains glucose, fructose and sucrose. It is a rich source of calcium containing about 15 times the amount of Ca present in wheat.

The tree is often lopped for camel fodder. Fruits fed to cattle are said to increase milk production. Seed cake is suitable as livestock fodder and contains 12 % protein. Sheep and goats graze the tree.

It is an important source of fuelwood.

Timber:  Wood is light red or yellow, weighs about 608-865 kg/m³, is moderately hard, with a small, irregular, purple heartwood. It is used for building purposes, agricultural implements, Persian wheels and boats.

Shade or shelter:  It is suitable for growing in shelterbelts and as windbreaks in desert tracks.

Lipids:  Seeds contain 40-50 % of a greenish-yellow fat containing large amounts of lauric and myristic acids. It could be used for making soap and candles.

Medicine: Leaves are used to relieve cough, and are given to horses as a purgative. Root bark is used as a vesicant. Fruits are used in the treatment of enlarged spleen, rheumatism and fever. The seed fat is used in the treatment of rheumatic pains, in preparation of suppositories and as a base for ointments. Unspecified part used to treat throat swelling of domestic animals in India.

A dense, almost impenetrable growth is formed by a parent stem surrounded by a ring of root suckers, which can be used as a barrier.

Soil improver:  Seed meal left after fat extraction is valued as fertilizer for tobacco.