Cinnamomum tamala

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Local names:
Bengali (tejpat,tamala), English (Indian cassia lignea), Gujarati (tejpat,tamalapatra), Tamil (talishapattiri)

Cinnamomum tamala is a moderate sized evergreen tree attaining a height of 8 m, and a girth of 150 cm. Its bark produces mucilage.

Leaves lanceolate, glabrous; alternately placed, opposite and short stalked. 3-nerved from the base. 

The genus Cinnamomum has about 250 tropical tree and shrub species. The etymology is derived from the Greek word ‘kinnamomon’ (meaning spice).The Greeks borrowed the word from the Phoenicians, indicating that they traded with the East from early times. The specific epithet 'tamala' is after a local name of the plant in India.

Ecology

C. tamala is found in tropical and sub-tropical Himalayas, Khasi and Jaintia hills and in eastern Bengal, India.

Native range
India

Tree management

Transplanted in the field 2 m apart with a recommended spacing of 3-4 m. Sufficient shade is provided in the early stages of growth, and shade trees are cleared after 8-9 years. The fields are not usually manured or other wise cared for but undergrowth is occasionally removed. The ease with which essential oils can be obtained from this plant’s material makes it ideal for cash crop farming. Leaves are ready for harvesting when trees are 10 years. Tree longevity is up to 100 years, and they continue bearing in old age. Leaves are collected every year from vigorous plants and in alternate years from old and weak ones. Collections are made in dry weather from October-March. Continuous rain diminishes the aroma of the leaves. Small branches with leaves are dried in the sun for 3 or 4 days and tied up into bundles for marketing. The average annual yield per tree is 40-100 kg/tree.

Seedlings appear 30-45 days after sowing and should be transplanted 4-5 years later.

C. tamala is found in tropical and sub-tropical Himalayas, Khasi and Jaintia hills and in eastern Bengal, India.

In northern India, the plants are raised from seeds sown in the nursery beds in March-April. Seedlings appear 30-45 days after sowing, and are transplanted when 4-5 years old in the field.

Poison:  Four essential oils of C. tamala screened for fungicidal activity against F. moniliforme [Gibberella fujikuroi], a postharvest fungal pathogen of cereal crops were effective in inhibiting fungal growth. Activity of the four oils increased with concentration. C. tamala essential oil exhibited fungitoxicity against A. flavus and A. parasiticus at 3000 ppm and 1000 ppm, respectively. The fungitoxic property of the oil was not affected by temperature, autoclaving or storage.

Erosion control:  Protects surrounding soil from erosion.

  The leaves  are used extensively in northern India as a spice - Tejpat.  In Kashmir they are used as a substitute for paan (betel leaves).

Shade or shelter:  With an evergreen canopy tejpat is an important shade provider in its native range.

Medicine:  Leaves of C. tamala are used in colic and diarrhoeal preparations. C. tamala leaf extracts produce a hypoglycaemic effect in experimental rats. Hydrodistilled essential oils of C. tamala screened for their anti-fungal activity against Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Microsporum microsporum audounil causing ring worm diseases in animals and humans exhibited fungicidal or fungistatic toxicity and were more effective than the synthetic antifungal agents, clotrimazole, griseofulvin or nystatin. Plant parts are used in many ayurvedic preparations e.g. sudarshan, choorna and chanderprabhavati.

Essential oil:  Leaves yield an essential oil with a specific gravity of 1.025, it is soluble in 1.2 volume of 70% alcohol. The oil resembles cinnamon leaf oil and contains phellandrene and 78% eugenol. The essential oil from the bark is pale yellow, and