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Dalbergia latifolia - Roxb.

Common Name Black Rosewood, East Indian Rosewood, Kala sheeshan, Satisal
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Mainly found in monsoon forests in association with species such as Tectona grandis, Albizzia chinensis, and Cassia fistula[ 349 ]. In the southwestern part of its range, it also occurs in evergreen forests[ 349 ].
Range E. Asia - Indian subcontinent; Java in Indonesia.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Dalbergia latifolia Black Rosewood, East Indian Rosewood, Kala sheeshan, Satisal

Dalbergia latifolia Black Rosewood, East Indian Rosewood, Kala sheeshan, Satisal


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Also known as Indian Rosewood, Dalbergia latifolia or Black Rosewood is an evergreen or deciduous tree native to southeast India. It grows to 40 m tall. Its bark is grey that peels in long fibres. The leaves are pinnate and compound. The flowers are small and white. Black rosewood is grown commercially for its high-value timber though its bark is used in traditional medicine to treat diarrhoea, indigestion, and leprosy. The wood is light in weight but durable and resistant to rotting and insect attacks. It is preferred for construction works, doors, window frames, ploughs, carving, furniture making, etc. D. latifolia can also be used as a shade tree in agroforestry areas and for improving soil condition as it has a nitrogen-fixing ability.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Dalbergia latifolia is a deciduous Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 30 m (98ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bees.
It can fix Nitrogen.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Dalbergia latifolia Roxburgh

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antidiarrhoeal  Leprosy  Vermifuge

The bark is used in traditional medicine in India, to treat diarrhoea, indigestion and leprosy, and as a vermifuge[ 299 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Furniture  Soil conditioner  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: Used as a shade tree in agroforestry in India and Indonesia, for reforestation of eroded soils, and as a soil improver fixing nitrogen and providing mulch[ 299 ]. It is also planted as a roadside tree and shade tree in coffee plantations[ 299 ]. During the first three years the trees are interplanted with rice, maize, beans or cassava and later, when the canopies begin to close, they are underplanted with shade-tolerant crops like coffee, turmeric and ginger[ 325 ]. In other systems it is grown with fruit trees like mango, annona, jackfruits and guava[ 325 ]. Other Uses The heartwood varies in colour from rose to dark-brown with darker purple-black lines or deep purple with black lines - the darker streaks impart[ng an attractive figure to the timber; it is clearly demarcated from the yellowish or pale yellowish-white sapwood that often has a purple tinge. The wood is light in weight, close and firm. It has exceptional dimensional stability, and retains its shape very well after seasoning. It is rather difficult to work with hand tools, but is quite easy to machine; it can be planed to a smooth surface.; turning, screwing, polishing and gluing give good results; and the wood can be peeled or sliced to make decorative veneer and plywood. The heartwood is durable, being resistant to dry-wood termites and wood-rotting fungi; it is difficult to treat with preservatives. The sapwood is perishable but readily treatable. The wood is used for fine furniture; cabinet making; as a decorative wood used, for example, in passenger ships and for instrument cases; musical instruments; turnery, flooring and decorative veneers[ 46 , 299 , 303 , 349 ]. It is suitable for high-grade plywood and, owing to its beautiful colour and figure, for decorative veneer[ 299 ]. Because of its strength and durability, it is suitable for all kinds of constructional work, doors, window frames and wagon building[ 299 ]. It is also used for handles of heavy-duty hammers and axes and for agricultural implements such as ploughs, harrows and rollers[ 299 ]. In cart and carriage building, it is used for wheel rims, spokes, poles and shafts[ 299 ]. It is one of the most popular woods for carving and engraving[ 299 ]. It is suitable for turnery and is excellent for high-class bentwood furniture, walking sticks, umbrella handles and other bentwood articles[ 299 ].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A species of tropical, lowland monsoonal areas, it has been successfully cultivated at elevations up to 1,000 metres[ 299 , 349 ]. The annual rainfall in its natural habitat ranges from 750 - 5,000 mm[ 349 ]. The tree thrives in areas with up to 6 dry months with mean monthly rainfall of less than 40 mm[ 299 ]. It tolerates minimum temperatures as low as 0 - 6°c[ 299 ]. Grows best on deep, well-drained, moist soils[ 349 ]. The species thrives in a variety of soil conditions including alluvial, lateritic and gneissic soils and broken rock[ 349 ]. Requires a sunny position[ 349 ]. A moderate light demander, seedlings can withstand moderate shade[ 299 ]. In too open locations trees tend to become crooked and branchy[ 299 ]. Older trees are very drought resistant[ 299 ]. Rotations of between 60 - 150 years are required for the production of high-grade timber[ 349 ]. Seedlings of Dalbergia latifolia have a strong taproot and are practically devoid of any secondary roots when young[ 299 ]. Initial growth of the seedlings is slow. Nodules which are the result of symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria are already found on the roots of seedlings[ 299 ]. Young trees are also relatively slow growing, but reported growth rates differ considerably. In Java (Indonesia) an annual height growth of 2 metres and an annual volume increment of 15 cubic metres/ha have been recorded for young plantations on favourable sites, but in India 10-year-old stands had an average height of 6 metres with a bole diameter of 4 - 5 cm[ 299 ]. In India the average age of reaching a diameter of 60 cm has been estimated at no less than 240 years![ 299 ]. The root system of older trees is well developed with deep tap roots and long lateral roots. When near the soil surface, the roots can produce suckers, many of which develop into trees[ 299 , 325 ]. Trees can be coppiced and pollarded[ 299 ]. Two varieties are recognised in Java:- 'Sonokeling' This is the native variety, it is straight-stemmed and used in agroforestry. It seldom produces seeds and is reproduced by suckers[ 325 ]. 'Sonobrits' This is the naturalised variety of Indian origin, it produces seed yearly. The tree is crooked-stemmed, fast growing and is used in land rehabilitation. The wood of sonobrits is less valuable because of crooked form and a more dull colour[ 325 ].. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[ 755 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - can be sown in situ. Seeds have no dormancy and so pre-treatment is not necessary, although pre-soaking in water for 12 - 24 hours accelerates germination[ 299 ]. Germination of fresh seed takes 7 - 25 days, and the germination rate is 45 - 80%[ 299 ]. For planting, seeds are sown in well-raised seedbeds of porous sandy loam or in polythene bags[ 299 ]. Like many species within the family Fabaceae, once they have been dried for storage the seeds of this species may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing[ K ]. Seeds remain viable for up to 6 months[ 299 ]. Under natural conditions regeneration is generally satisfactory, with seeds germinating at the beginning of the rainy season. However, seedlings should be protected against fire and grazing[ 299 ]. Root suckers of 1 - 2.5 cm diameter[ 299 ]. Root and stem cuttings can also be used[ 299 ]. The buds of root suckers and stem cuttings start to sprout about 9 days after planting, and those of root cuttings about 15 days after planting, but after 2 months all young plants have more or less the same height[ 299 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

kala sheeshan, rosewood, satisal.

Native Range

TROPICAL ASIA: India (all but Assam, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir), Nepal, India (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), Malaysia (Malaya)

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Vulnerable A1cd

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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