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Department of Botany

Since 1980

Sterculia foetida L.



   Botanical NameSterculia foetida L.
   SynonymsClompanus foetida. (L.) Kuntze, Sterculia polyphylla R. Br.
   Common NameEnglish : Indian Almond / Tamil : Kutiraippitukku
   DistributionGlobal : Southern India , Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh.
Indian : Assam, Kerala, Tamilnadu
   DescriptionDeciduous trees up to 25 m height, bole buttressed; bark grey, smooth, irregularly flaking off in thin scales, blaze reddish-yellow, branches horizontal, whorled. Leaves palmately compound, alternate, clustered at the end of branchlets; stipules free, lateral, deciduous. swollen at base, leaflets 3-9, lamina elliptic-lanceolate, base cuneate, apex acuminate, margin entire, coriaceous. Inflorescence racemes. Flowers unisexual or polygamous, dull-orange red, in axillary or terminal racemes, foetid smell, calyx dull orange red, deeply 5-partite, glabrous outside, woolly inside; petals absent. Male flowers - staminal column curved, hairy at base, bearing 10-15 anthers at its tip. Female flowers - ovary 5, free, superior, downy, each with 20 ovules, gynophore stout, styles deflexed, hairy, staminodes subsessile in a ring beneath the carpels. Fruit an aggregate of follicle of 1-5, scarlet, boat shaped, 5-lobed, woody, glabrous; seeds black, numerous, ellipsoid, smooth, with a small yellow aril.
   Flowering Fruiting periodFebruary-August
   UsesThe wood is suitable for construction, flooring, joinery, paper making, soap making.
   Medicinal UsesLaxative, diuretic, anti-epileptic, and insect repellent. Its seed oil is used externally to treat itches and other skin diseases.
   Tamil NameKutiraippitukku