Tun
 
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Tun, or the Red Cedar (Cederla toona), is a large-sized deciduous tree. Botanical family is Meliaceae. It is found throughout the Indian subcontinent, especially in slightly elevated terrain of the Tarai, the Shivaliks and the outer Himalayas from 400 to 1500 m. In Haryana, this tree can be found growing in the Morni Hills and Kalesar Forest. It is also found in the Deccan plateau. In its natural habitat Tun grows in mixed stands comprising other broad-level species like terminalias, albizzias, Semul, ficuses, Shisham, acacias, etc. At times it can be seen growing in Chir pine forest, especially low-lying gaps.

Tun has a straight cylindrical trunk and a spreading crown, at times hemispherical like an umbrella. Its bark is thin gray. It is smooth up to middle age of the plant but rough thereafter when the tree tends to mature. The branching starts at a height of 4 to 6 m above ground level. Tun is a fast growing species, in a favorable conditions of sandy loam soil with good moisture, it can mature in about 70 to 80 years by when its height is about 15 to 20 m and diameter is about 50 to 80 cm. The Tun wood shows annual growth rings, which provide nice textural grain to it.

The leaves of Tun are paripinnale compound, nearly 30 to 50 cm long, having 8 to 30 leaflets. The leaflets are generally opposite, 5 to 15 cm long, 2 to 6 cm wide and lanceolate in shape. These are glabrous above and pubescent below. Young shoots are dark red which soon change to bright green shade. The Tun leaves start falling during early winter and reappear in early spring. In fact the tree is seldom leafless and can easily be mistaken for an evergreen plant. Tun bears small but beautiful white flowers arrangement in lax panicles. These start appearing in Feb-Mar.

The fruit of Tun is a five-valved capsule about 2 to 3 cm long. Arranged in pendulous clusters, these ripen in summer. The seeds are tiny and winged. These are disseminated far and wide through wind and water action whereby germination and growth of new plants is easy. The tree tends to regenerate profusely in it natural habitat. Nevertheless it can be propagated artificially too. For this purpose the ripe fruit is collected from the tree by hand picking during summer. The seed so collected is sown in prepared beds directly at the spot where new regeneration/plants are required to be raised. The sowing is done in nursery beds for raising seedlings for special planting work, especially in the avenues of roads and of canals. The right season for planting seedlings is when these are in leafless state i.e. during late winter. However, the process carried out during monsoons also gives fairly good results.

Tun wood is light, yet fairly strong. It is scented and not eaten by whites ants. The heartwood weighs about 18 to 20 kg per cubic foot. Its red color is the reason the tree is sometimes called Red Cedar. The wood is pretty good for joinery and other carpentry work. In fact, it is highly valued for making cabinets, musical instruments, good quality furniture, door panels, decorative carving work, tea boxes, cigar boxes. etc. That also is the reason that Tun wood is seldom available in good quantity. Its going price these days is around Rs 1500 per cu ft.

In addition to yielding quality timber, Tun has some other important uses as well. The foliage serves as a fodder for cattle at times when it is scarce in the area. The flowers make a good yellow dye (gulnari). The bark is an astringent. It gives resinous gum, which is used as a febrifuge. Tun trees makes beautiful landscapes and provide shade.
 



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