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1. Write the economic importance of gymnosperms.

INTRODUCTION

- The gymnosperms are an economically important group of plants spread all over
the globe, primarily in the temperate regions and at higher elevations in the
tropics.
- The trees are used for landscaping, timber, building construction, resin, and for
the manufacture of paper and board.
- They are also used in medicines, perfumes, varnishes, and essential oils.

- The gymnosperms are predominantly woody plants.


- They are frequently used in landscaping of parks and gardens because of their
evergreen habit and symmetrical appearance.

RESINS

- Resins are plant exudates which make the wood resistant to decay.
- The resins are insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents.
- The superior grade resin is used in paper sizing, varnishes, enamels, plasters,
medicines and ointments.
- The inferior grades go in the manufacture of yellow laundry soap, printing ink, oil
cloth, insulators, oil and grease, insecticides, adhesives, plastics, disinfectants and
shoe polish.
- Metal resonates, which are made by adding small quantities of metals such as lead
and magnesium to aldehyde modified resin, are much valued as paint drier.

ROSIN

- An oleoresin (also called pine gum, pine pitch or turpentine) is the mixture of
rosin and essential oil.
- The residue after the distillation of oleoresin is called the gum rosin or colophony.
- Rosin is also obtained by solvent extraction of old stumps.
- Such rosin is called wood rosin.
- USA is the largest producer of turpentine followed by France and other European
countries, India and other East Asian countries.

- In India, the tapping of pine trees is generally done from March to November.
- The tapping is mainly done in two ways:
a. Light continuous tapping, and
b. Heavy tapping.
- In trees having a girth of 1-2.5m, the tapping is done on one face, whereas in
those over 2.5m, it is done on two faces 12-15 cm apart.
- Since higher temperatures favour tapping, it is generally done on the side facing
south.

a. Light continuous tapping


- A transverse cut 20cm wide, at the height of 15 cm above the ground, is made on
the side by a chisel after removing the bark.
- A rectangular piece (15cm x 5cm) of galvanized iron is hammered in, to form the
lip and a nail is driven about half inch below the lip.

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- The collecting vessel is hung on this nail.
- Just above the lip, a channel is made which is increased every year at its upper
end.
- After about five years another face is made to its left and the same process is
continued till the complete girth is used.

b. Heavy tapping
- In heavy tapping, as many faces as possible are tapped simultaneously.
- It is done on the trees destined to be felled within five years.

- The yield of resin has been greatly increased by using sulphuric acid (0.5%) or
inoculation of Fusarium lateritum f. pini or by using higher resin yielding strains.
- The former two methods increase the flow of resin since they do not allow the
wounds to heal quickly.

- When a tree has been fully tapped and felled, the remaining stump is taken out of
the ground.
- Its heartwood is chopped and subjected to organic solvents such as hot benzene or
hot petroleum naphtha.
- The solvent dissolves away the resin which is then recovered by distillation.

COPAL

- Copals belong to the group hard resins which contain only a little essential oil.
- These are much valued in the varnish industry because of their high melting point
and hardness.
- The copal is obtained both from living and fossil trees.

AMBER

- It is a fossil resin.
- It occurs in blue earth near eastern shore of the Baltic, Sicily, Madagascar and
Myanmar (Burma).
- Amber is yellow brown to black, hard and brittle with an aromatic odour.
- It is obtained through mining.
- It is used in medicine and X-ray therapy.
- It is reported that blood does not coagulate when kept in amber containers.
- It is also used for beads, carving, and other ornaments, cigarette and cigar holders
and mouth pieces of smoking pipes.
- Fossilized amber, that occasionally included plants and animals, especially
insects, has greatly aided in the latter’s classification and in studies regarding
evolution of life on earth.

FATTY OILS

- Many gymnosperm seeds contain fatty oils.


- These have, however, not been exploited commercially because they find greater
use in being eaten raw as nuts.

PAPER

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- Around 1840 in Germany, Friedrich Keller was the first to use wood pulp for
making paper.

FOOD

- The stem starch is more popularly known as ‘sago’.


- It is utilized in several Asian countries, including India.
- The plants which are nearly seven years old and have not fruited are best suited
for this purpose.
- The plants are cut just before the flush of new leaves and the outermost dry
annularly furrowed stem alongwith the fronds are removed.
- Only innermost cylindrical axis is used which, after drying, is made into flour.
- The starch is converted into spherical granules, called sago.
- These granules are passed through sieves to obtain several grades such as ‘bullet
sago’, ‘pearl sago’, etc.

DECORATION

- Gymnosperms offer a good source material for developing ‘Bonsai’ plants.


- The art of dwarfing trees originated in Japan and is now fancied the world over.
- Biota, Thuja, Juniperus, Araucaria and Pinus are grown for ornamental purpose.

CONIFERALES

WOOD

- The coniferous wood is generally straight-grained, light-coloured, and light-


weighted.
- It consists of tracheids, xylem parenchyma and xylem rays.
- The wood lacks xylem fibres but has more cellulose.
- It, therefore, has a softer texture than the angiospermous wood.
- There is hardly any difference between the heartwood and the sapwood.
- It finds great use where strength and durability are not required.
- It is much valued for cabinet and furniture making, joinery work and interior
decoration.

RESINS

- Conifers are amongst the major resin yielders of the world.

ESSENTIAL OILS

- The essential oils, obtained from almost all those conifers that yield resin, have
not been exploited on a commercial basis because of their low content or
replacement by some other superior or synthetic ones.

FATTY OILS

- Tall oil (fatty acids: 20-60%, resin acid: 10-60%, unsaponifiable material: 5-
24%), which is obtained as a by-product during sulphate process of cooking

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conifer wood for making kraft paper, is used in paints, soaps, linoleum,
emulsifiers, organic coating industry, etc.
- The oil recovery is so poor that it is uneconomical to produce except as a by-
product.

PAPER

- Conifers are preferred throughout the world as a source of pulp.


- Newsprint industry is largely based on conifer pulp.

DECORATION

- The one single item that heightens the beauty of any hill resort/ forest is the
conifers, be it a pine, cedar, fir, spruce, juniper or hemlock.
- Their stately appearance, symmetrical growth and evergreen habit are a treat to
the eye.
- They are a pride possession of any horticulturist or garden lover.
- Juniperus chinensis, Pinus parviflora, P. thunbergii, P. densiflora, P. nigra and P.
mugo are some of the conifers used for the purpose of developing ‘Bonsai’ plants.

- The conifers are much valued, and several taxa are grown wherever the climate
permits; Thuja, Biota, Araucaria, Juniperus and Pinus are quite popular.

TANNINS

- Small quantities of tannin are obtained from the bark of Tsuga canadensis,
Sequoia sempervirens, Larix decidua, Picea alba, Phyllocladus trichomanoides,
Araucaria and Dacrydium cupressinum.
- Tannins are mainly used in the leather and petroleum industry, in medicine and
for dyeing purposes.
- The tannins from gymnospermous sources have not been exploited commercially.

OTHER USES

- Wood wool and leaf wool are obtained by longitudinally cutting wood chips or
leaves of conifers into tiny small pieces.
- The wool is used for stuffing pillows, cushions, etc.
- Wool from essential oil-yielding conifers is in demand as it emits a very faint and
pleasant pine smell.

Pinaceae

Wood

Abies

- The wood of Abies alba, an important timber tree of Europe, is used in general
carpentry.
- It is white or yellowsh white, light, soft with distinct annual rings.
- It is usually straight, splits well, works easily and finishes with good surface.
- It is not a good choise for outdoor jobs but keeps well indoors.

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- It finds use in the sound boards of musical instruments, carving, wood wool,
boxes, paper pulp, planks and boards.
- After treatment with preservatives or copper sulphate, it can be used as telephone
and telegraph poles.

- Abies balsamea is distributed mainly in North America and Canada.


- The wood is light, weak, knotty and is used for ordinary buildings and box
making.
- It is, however, increasingly being used in association with spruce, as pulp-wood
for paper-making.

- Abies amabilis (in Alaska), Abies grandis (Canada), Abies concolor (westerm
North America) and Abies procera (America) wood is used for interior furnishing,
box making, building purposes and general carpentry.
-
- The wood of Abies concolor, being, non-odorous, is especially suitable for boxes
for keeping dairy products and other provisions.

- Among Japanese firs, Abies firma is most common.


- Its wood is light, straight-grained, works easily, but requires careful seasoning.
- It is used for general carpentry, joinery, and for making packing cases.

- Abies delavayi is an important timber tree of china.

- Abies magnifica is considered as one of the best fir woods.


- It is light, soft, and close-grained.
- It is used for bridge building, general construction, joinery work, boxes and as
fuel.

- The wood of Abies pindrow and Abies spectabilis, both occurring in India, is
pale-yellow, non-odorous, lustrous, straight-grained, and easy to work.
- It is non-durable when in contact with soil.
- It is used for making packing boxes, matches, general carpentry, camp furniture,
railway sleepers, plywood, paper pulp and slanting roofs in hilly tracts.

Cedrus

- Cedrus atlantica (Algeria, Morocco), C. deodara (India) and C. libani (Lebanon)


are much valued among conifers.
- The wood of Cedrus is in great demand as it is very durable, oily, sweet scented
and generally without resin ducts.

- The cedar of Lebanon (C. Libani) was called the “Tree of God” by the ancients as
its wood was used as roof beams in all the sacred and celebrated temples of
Egypt.
- Its wood was also used for making mummy cases, coffins, ad figurines.

- C. deodara, the deodar, is one of the most important timbers of North India.
- It is considered strongest among the Indian coniferous woods and weight for
weight, about as strong as teak.
- The seasoned wood is resistant to the insect attack due to the presence of oil.

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- It is used for making doors, poles, furniture, beams, ceilings, columns, carriages,
wagons, boats, flowing and wood carving.
- It was even used as battery separators and railway sleepers.
- Because of large knots, the wood is unsatisfactory for interior finish, veneers and
plywood.

Larix

- Larix decidua (Alps, W. Poland, Russia) and L. leptolepis (Japan) wood is hard,
moderately durable even when in contact with soil and is used for pit-props,
stakes, transmission poles, ship and boat building, house construction, railway
sleepers, feeding utensils for cattle and garden furniture.

- The wood of L. laricina (USA) is heavy, hard and durable, and can be used for
such purposes where the wood is in contact with the ground.
- It is less inflammable than many other coniferous woods.
- The roots have been used for weaving baskets.

Picea

- The wood of Picea abies (Europe), the common spruce, is light in weight, soft,
long fibred, and straight-grained, but is non-durable.
- The timber exhibits a natural luster.
- It is used for plywood, carpentry, dairy and kitchen table tops, indoor finishing,
pit-props, sound boards of musical instruments, carving, and match-boxes.
- At the time of Christmas, this tee is most popular among all conifers.
- Ropes and fishing lines are made from the pliable roots.
-
- P. engelmanni (USA, Canada) wood is employed in building construction,
flowing, carpentry, plywood and packing boxes.

- In North America, P. glauca, P. mariana and P. rubens wood is used in mining


props, interior finish and packing cases.
- The better grade wood is used for sound boards of pianos, violins and for organ
pipes.
- However, the maximum utilization of the wood is for making paper pulp and
artificial fabric pulp.

- Picea sitchensis (North America and Great Britain), the sitka spruce, yields a
quality timber which is non-resinous, pinkish-brown, light, strong, long fibred and
easily worked with good satiny finish.
- The plywood, derived from it, is used in special laminates for aeroplanes, glider
construction and sound boards of musical instruments.

- P. smithiana, the west Himalayan spruce, wood is white, turning brownish with
age, straight and even grained and even textured.
- It offers light and strong wood which is used for slanting roofs in hilly areas,
flowing, cheap furniture, packing cases, match-boxes and plywood.
- It is considered as one of the best light boxwoods of India.
- It is prone to insect attack but works well after preservative treatment.

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Pinus

- Pinus caribaea and P. palustris (America) wood which is hard, heavy, strong,
coarse-grained and moderately durable, is mainly employed in bridge and ship-
building, spars, masts, heavy construction work, railway wagons, church and
school furniture and fittings and flowing.
- Because of excessive resin, the wood is not much preferred for carpentry.

- The timber of P. palustris is more valued than other pines, and is regarded as the
standard for comparing strength and durability of other softwoods.
- The only other comparable wood is that of P. caribaea.

- Fibres extracted from the leaves of P. palustris and P. sylvestris (Scots pine) are
utilized for stuffing mattresses, cushions and pillows, and for making surgical
dressings and weaving into mats.

- P. cembra (Europe and North Russia) produces a light, yellowish-brown and


straight-grained wood which is very durable.
- Its softness, easy workability and absence of any hard rings makes it a desirable
material for cabinet-making, joinery, indoor finish, and toy making.
- It takes paint and polish well.
- Knotty wood is used for panelling.

- The wood of P. contorta is very knotty but moderately strong and straight-grained.
- It is used for log houses, interior finish, boat building, general construction and
box making.
- When creosoted (creosote is an oily liquid having a burning taste and penetrating
odour, obtained by distillation of wood tar and is used as a preservative), the
timber is used for railway sleepers and fencing.

- The wood of P. densiflora is moderately hard, strong and resinous and compares
well with Scots pine.
- It is utilized for general construction work and indoor finish of houses.
- After splitting, the resinous roots are used as torches.

- The wood of P. khasya is used locally for fuel and building purposes.

- P. halepensis (Mediterranean) wood is employed for fuel, packing cases,


telegraph poles and carpentry.

- The wood of P. lambertiana (USA) is straight-grained, easily worked, compact,


and soft, but less durable.
- It is used for boxes, crates, doors, frames and indoor finish.

- P. nigra, P. pinaster and P. ponderosa (Northern Europe) yield wood, useful after
creosote or other preservatives treatment for sleepers, poles, construction work,
pit-props and coarse carpentry.

- The wood of P. monticola, P. strobus and P. radiata (America) is similarly used.

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- P. sylvestris furnishes an excellent quality wood that is moderately strong and
resinous.
- It is a good choice for indoor work but should be creosoted or treated with some
antiseptic before using it outdoors.
- It is used extensively in house building, furniture, indoor finish, heavy
construction work, boat and ship building, masts and, after preservative treatment,
as railway sleepers, telegraph poles, fencing, etc.

- P. roxburghii, chir pine, is one of the most widely used commercial timbers of
India.
- Large quantities are floated down the river from Himalayas to plains.
- It yields a resinous, non-durable, and light wood which finds its use mainly in
packing cases, construction work, low priced furniture, poles, railway sleepers,
truck and bus chassis.

- The wood of P. weallichiana, kail or blue pine, is quite hard and durable and is
used similarly as that of P. roxburghii.

Pseudotsuga

- Pseudotsuga (Douglas fir) wood is coarse-grained and heavy.


- It yields a strong, durable timber.
- Its surface takes paint and polish well.
- The wood finds its use in general construction work, for poles, railway carriages,
flooring, cooperage, paper pulp, plywood etc.

Rosin

Pinus

- The pine oleoresin was used to smear mummies by ancient Egyptians.


- A pine tree yields only oleoresins from which rosin could be separated by
distillation.
- The important species are Pinus palustris and P. caribaeae (USA), P. pinaster, P.
halepensis, P. nigra, P. pinea and P. sylvestris (Europe), P. roxburghii and P.
wallichiana (India), P. khasya (Phillipines) and P. merkusii (East Indies).

Picea

- Picea abies yields Burgundy pitch which is the purified resin.


- From the branchlets and leaves is distilled Swiss turpentine.
- A fermented liquor, spruce beer, is obtained from an extract of young shoots and
leaves mixed with treacle and some other sugary substances.
- Small quantities of resin of local importance are obtained from Picea abies (Jura
turpentine in Northern Europe) and Larix decidua (Venetian turpentine in central
Europe).
- Jura terpentine is yellow to reddish brown with sweet aromatic taste.
- The resin, which is strongly adhesibe, is used for special quality varnishes and
plasters.
- Venetian turpentine, on the other hand, is used in varnishes, lithographic work,
histology and veterinary medicines.

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Canada balsam

Abies

- The resin obtained from Abies balsamea has a very high refractive index nearing
that of glass.
- Moreover, it does not crystallize or granulate on drying.
- This makes Canada balsam as the most preferred mounting medium for
microscopic objects and a cement for lenses in optical work.

Pseudotsuga and Tsuga

- A somewhat similar resin is obtained from Pseudotsuga taxifolia and Tsuga


canadensis in very small quantities.

Amber

Pinus

- Amber is a fossil resin secreted by the now extinct pine, Pinus succinifera.

Essential oils

Picea and Tsuga

- In Yugoslavia, Picea abies yields spruce oil that is pleasant and refreshing and is
used in room sprays, bath salts and deodorants.
- The oil of Hemlock-spruce (obtained from Tsuga canadensis, T. heterophylla,
Picea mariana and P. glauca) is put to similar use in USA.

Abies

- Abies sibirica yields the Siberian fir needle oil, and is used in scenting of soaps
(both toilet and shaving), bath preparations, room sprays, deodorants and
disinfectants.
- It is considered best among all the pine, fir and spruce needle oils.
- The oil which emits the most pleasant balsamic odour is obtained from A. alba.
- It is used in all kinds of pine compositions and medicinal preparations for the
treatment of colds and rheumatism.
- It is produced in Germany, Yugoslavia and Austria and used all over Europe.

Cedrus

- In India, the oil extracted from Cedrus deodara is used in perfumery and scenting
soaps.
- It is also recommended for clearing tissues in histological work and for use with
oil immersion lens of the microscope.
- Cedrus atlantica yields an oil with medicinal properties.
- It is used against bronchitis, tuberculosis, skin diseases and gonorrhoea.
- It also serves as an excellent odour fixative.

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Pinus

- A large number of species of Pinus are tapped for turpentine oil.


- There are several methods of extraction and these include
a. Distillation or steam distillation of oleo-resin,
b. Steaming of wood chips, and
c. Condensates recovered during sulphate process of cooking wood pulp.
- The turpentine oil obtained by distillation of oleoresin is used as a solvent, paint
and varnish thinner, chemical raw material and pharmaceutical.
- It is also widely used in stains, enamels, inks, lubricants, waxes, stain removers,
polishes, crayons, insecticides, liniments, medicated soaps, disinfectants and
chemicals such as camphene, camphor and terpineol.
- The oil obtained by steam distillation of oleoresin differs slightly from one which
is obtained by distillation process.
- It is more volatile and finds its use in chemicals and pharmaceuticals, as additives
of lubricating oils, terpene ethers, camphene and insecticides.

- The turpentine oil obtained y last two processes is used as an industrial solvent,
anti-skinning agent and for reclaiming of rubber.
- It is also valued in ore floatation, disinfectants and for treating paper bags for
storage.
- Several esters of pinic acid, prepared from turpentine oil, found use as lubricants
for jet aircrafts and as plasticizers.

- Pine oil, recovered during steam and solvent process extraction of wood rosin
from old stumps, is used as a frothing agent in separation of metals by floatation.
- It is largely used in laundries and in dyeing different textiles and for making
soaps, paints, germicides, varnish remover and insecticides.

Fatty oils

Pinus

- The fatty oil obtained from Pinus cembra seeds is used for food and paint.

Paper

- Superior quality of writing and printing paper is manufactured from the wood of
Picea, Tsuga and Abies, whereas kraft paper is obtained from Pinus.
- Canada and USA which are the largest paper producing countries of the world
generously use conifers such as Picea, Pinus, Abies, Larix and Pseudotsuga.
- Other countries also use conifers.
- In India, Picea smithiana, Abies pindrow and Pinus roxburghii provide excellent
quality pulp.

- Picea produces excellent pulp as its wood exhibits such desirable characters as
light colour, low resin content and long fibres.
- Most paper manufacturers consider that “spruce is king”.

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- Several products such as rayon, transparent and photographic film lacquers, etc.
are derived from the wood pulp of Picea and Tsuga.

Food

- Pine seeds have been used as a food item for a long time.
- In Pliny’s time the kernels were preserved in honey and eaten.
- They have been found amongst the domestic supplies in the ruins of Pompei and
in the refuse dumps of Roman camps in Britain.

Pinus

- The seeds of Pinus gerardiana, the chilgoza pine, have long been marketed in
India by Afghan traders.
- The tree grows in the Himalayas and its seeds are considered an important food
item from Tibet to Afghanistan.
- The cones, when still green, are stacked in heaps and fired.
- This causes the cone scales to expand and release the seeds.
- The best known edible pine in Europe is P. pinea.
- The cones are exposed to sun to expand the scales.
- The seeds are mechanically released to expose the kernels.
- The nuts are mainly produced in Italy and Spain and are sold as far as America.
- In Italy the nuts are used in soups, as dessert and in the preparation of a much
valued sweetmeat.
- Some of the lesser known pines whose seeds are also edible are: Pinus cembra, P.
pumila and P. koraiensis.
- In North American continent the seeds obtained from P. cembroides, P. edulis, P.
monophylla and P. parryana are commercially used in the manufacture of nut-
coffee, caramels, candies and other sweets.

Decoration

- Picea and Abies are ceremoniously used as Christmas trees.

Other uses

- The bark from several trees such as Picea abies, Pinus sylvestris, P. contorta, P.
ponderosa, Pseudotsuga taxifolia and Tsuga heterophylla is added to wood in
making commercial boards of standard quality.
- The bark and wood flour (saw mill-waste) are used for making linoleum, plastics,
artificial wood, composition flooring, insulating bricks and as an absorbent in the
manufacture of dynamite.
- Sawdust is also subjected to aid hydrolysis in which the cellulose is broken down
to sugars.
- This sugar is then utilized in the propagation of yeast for use as stock feed or
protein rich food for human consumption.

- Maleo-primaric acid, obtained from crude pine pitch, is used in printers ink, paper
sizing, and photographic chemicals.

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- The destructive distillation of the resinous heartwood yields a variety of products
such as charcoal, turpentine oil and pine oil, pine tar, tar oil and pitch.
- The tar (in India obtained mainly from Pinus roxburghii) is used for skin disease,
caulking boats, and for preservation of ropes and cordage.

Araucariaceae

Wood

Agathis

- Agathis australis, ‘Kauri pine’, the chief timber tree of New Zealand, with its
extremely tall, without taper cylindrical bole, rangs amongst the largest timber
producing trees of the world.
- The wood is fine and even textured with a silky lustrous surface.
- It is useful in building construction, boats, vats and wooden machinery.

- Agathis brownie and Agathis palmerstoni bot occurring in Queensland, product


wood that is fine, uniform-textured but non-durable, and is used in plywood
making, cabinet work, butter boxes and churns and pattern making.
- It was also used as battery separators.

- Agathis vitiensis, the Fijian Kauri pine, yields ‘Dakua wood’ which is used for
joinery, masts, ship and boat building, booms, spars and for flowing houses.
- It is an alternative of what pine is in the Northern Hemisphere.

Araucaria

- Araucaria angustifolia occurs mainly in Brazil yielding a non-durable, heavy and


uniformly textured wood, useful in making doors, bus chassis, plywood and in
joinery work.
-
- Araucaria araucana, the monkey puzzle, produces a pale brown, even textured
wood for us in general building, carpentry and joinery.
-
- Araucaria bidwillii and A. cunninghamii are important timber trees for plywood
manufacture in Australia.
- The wood is white or green coloured and straight-grained and easily worked.
- It is used for indoor finish furniture, general house fittings, box wood, carving etc.

Copal

Agathis

- Of the copals, the most important and most valued is the kauri resin, also called
‘kauri gum’ or ‘kauri copal’, obtained from the kauri pine (Agathis australis).
- It occurs underground in fossilized form.
- New Zealand is the largest producer of kauri copal.
- The other type is the East Indian Copal or Manila copal, obtained from Agathis
alba that grows throughout Malaysia, from Sumatra to Phillipines, Celebes,
Moluccas and into New Guinea.

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- The resin is obtained in three forms:
a. In fossil condition,
b. As large lumps in forkings of the trees, and
c. From fresh tapping.
- The fossilized resin is considered superior to fresh resin.
- The copal resin is used for interior work and enamels and in preparation of spirit,
varnishes, lacquers, linoleum, plastics, oil cloth, water proofing compounds,
printing inks and as sizing material.
- Agathis vitiensis (Fiji), A. brownie (Queensland), A. ovata (New Caledonia) and
A. macrophylla (Solomon Island) are minor sources of copal.

Araucaria

- The resin of Araucaria angustifolia is fragrant and is often mixed with wax to
make candles.
- Fresh resin from A. araucana is a remedy for bruises, wounds, etc.
- In Celebes, it is used for making torches as most of the fishing is done at night.

Paper

- Several species of Agathis, Araucaria, Thuja and Taiwania are pulped in different
countries.

Food

Araucaria

- The seeds of Araucaria araucana are roasted and form an important articles of
food in Chile and Japan.
- Similarly, the seeds of Araucaria bidwillii and A. angustifolia are used in
Queensland and Brazil, respectively.

Taxodiaceae

Wood

Athrotaxis

- A native of Tasmania (Australia), produces open, straight-grained, light wood


which is valued for cabinet work, coach building and internal finish of houses.

Cryptomeria

- Cryptomeria japonica yields a coarse-grained, fragrant, strong, durable, easy to


work wood.
- It is one of the most utilized timbers of Japan.
- The bark is carefully stripped from trees and is used for roofing of houses.
- The wood is employed for building contruction, panelling, furniture and joinery.

Cunninghamia

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- Cunninghamia lanceolata grows extensively in china and yields a light, soft,
durable and fragrant wood.
- It is used for house building, indoor carpentry, mats, box-making and coffins.
- Trees buried by land slides in recent past in China, when dug out were found in an
excellent state of preservation.
- These are considered better than the newly felled timber and are mainly valued
for coffins.
- The bark is often used for roofing purposes.

Sequoia

- Sequoia sempervirens, the redwood, yields a light, non-resinous, reddish-brown


and durable wood.
- The durability of the wood makes it a convenient species for use in outdoor
situations such as large vats, wooden pipes, building, carpentry, furniture,
panelling, railway sleepers, poles and other uses where it is in contact with the
ground.

Sequoiadendron

- S. giganteum, the Big Tree, also yields a similar wood but its use is limited
because of scarce availability.

Taxodium

- T. distichum grows in large number in swampy areas in America.


- The tree has successfully been introduced in Himachal Pradesh and in botanical
gardens of FRI, Dehra Dun and Indian Botanic Garden, Calcutta.
- The dark coloured, dense and durable wood is mainly used for building
construction, posts, general mill work, fencing, panelling, sleepers and cooperage.
- It is highly valued for making vats and chemical tanks as it does not impart any
color or taste to the products.
- The wood is said to be resistant to white ants and is very durable when exposed to
wet and damp weathers.

- T. mucronatum, introduced in Nilgiris and Kerala, is useful at places where


resistance to decay is more important than strength.

Paper

Cryptomeria

- The wood of Cryptomeria japonica has yielded kraft paper.

Decoration

Cryptomeria

- Cryptomeria japonica lends beauty to the groves and gardens of Japan.


- It forms the famous avenue which leads to the temples and tomb of Icyasu
(founder of Tokugawa dynasty) at Nikko.

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- The avenue, laid out in the 17th century, has been maintained by replacing dead or
damaged trees.
- Much attention was paid to forest administration by the Tokugawa Government.
- Tree felling was restricted.

Cupressaceae

Wood

Callitris

- Depending on the species, the wood of Callitris is dark or light coloured.


- It is hard, close-grained and fragrant.
- It polishes and finishes well and is resistant to white ants owing to the presence of
phenol and other chemicals.
- The wood finds its use for building purposes, furniture, panelling, etc.

Chamaecyparis

- The wood of Chamaecyparis formosensis has a very smooth surface.


- It is used for making sound boards of musical instruments.

- C. lawsoniana, widely distributed in America, furnishes timber that is light, fine


and even textured, moderately strong, very durable with fragrant and spicy odour.
- It is mainly employed for ship building, railway sleepers and fence posts, match
sticks, furniture, organ pipes and internal finish of houses and floowring.
- It keeps away moths and insects.
- The fragrant essential oil in the wood is a strong diuretic, so much so that workers
in places where the wood is sawn had to change to other woods.

- Another species, C. nootkatensis yields timber which was considered ideal for
battery separators.
- The tree is prevalent in Alaska and exhibits a sharp tapering bole.
- The timber, which is hard, very durable, pale yellow, fine and even textured, is
also used for poles, boat making and furniture.

- In Japan, C. obtuse and C. pisifera yield a light, strong, fine and straight-grained,
fragrant and very durable wood which is much valued for structural purposes,
modeling, panelling, cabinets and furniture.
- The bark is resistant to decay and is utilized for roofing purposes.
- The sapwood is used for plating into hats and mats.

Cupressus

- Cupressus lusitanica and C. macrocarpa grow extensively in E. Africa and


Australia.
- The wood is yellow to brownish, odorous, resinous and very durable, useful for
construction work, building, furniture, poles, fencing and carpentry.
- The wood repels insects.
- Because of objectionable odour, the wood is not favoured for packing grocery and
dairy products.

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- It is especially preferred for places where it is in contact with the ground.

- C. torulosa grows in North Himalayas.


- The wood is valued for building and furniture purposes, railway sleepers, and
aircraft manufacture.
- It is also burnt as incense in temples.
- It is considered as the most durable coniferous wood in India.
- It has advantage over deodar that it does not exude any oil and thus could be
painted and polished.

Juniperus

- A heavy, durable and fine textured wood with a cedar scent is obtained from
Juniperus bermudiana (Central America) and J. procera (East Africa).
- The wood is used for pencil making, ship building, posts, carpentry and furniture.

- The wood of J. procera is brittle but polishes well.


- It is damp and insect-resistant.

- In Bermuda, cabinets made out of J. bermudiana wood are highly prized and
treated as heirlooms.
-
- J. excelsa yields a durable wood, preferred for building purposes, posts, railway
sleepers and furniture.

- J. virginiana wood in Eastern America is considered very suitable for superior


quality pencils.
- Its strong aroma makes it perfect for cigar boxes, linen chests, coffins, etc.

- J. wallichiana (black juniper) wood is used as fuel and is also burnt as incense in
Budhhist temples.

- Good quality furniture is made from the wood of J. chinensis in china, Japan and
Mongolia.

- The Himalayan J. macropoda yields wood suitable for making pencils, wall plates
and beams.
- It is also used as fuel and is burnt as an incense.

Libocedrus

- Libocedrus decurrens growing in California provides a light, soft, fragrant,


extremely decay resistant, medium textured and chocolate brown wood.
- The best grade wood is used for making pencils and venetian blinds, whereas the
other grades are utilized for interior finish of buildings, poles and for fencing.

Thuja

- The wood of Thuja plicata is one of the most durable ones due to the presence of
certain antibiotics.

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- Because of its weather resistant properties, it is useful for glass house
construction, weather boarding, lumber, piling and outhouses.
- It is also used for telephone and telegraph poles and beehives.
- The hollowed out trunks have been used as canoes.
- The inner bark on maceration and beating yields fibres that are woven into mats,
baskets, hats, etc.
- Young branches have also been used for similar work.
- Since the wood has acidic properties, it should be used with care.
- Roots make fish-hooks.

- The wood of T. occidentalis is used for fence posts, sleepers, building purposes,
and boats.
- The white cedar is an attractive landscape tree, much cultivated for hedges and
windbreaks.
- It is grown as Christmas tree in Indian plains.

Sandarac

Tetraclinis and Callitris

- Sandarac is a hard resin obtained as a pale yellow or orange coloured exudate


from the trunks of Tetraclinis articulate (source of African sandarac) and Callitris
sp. (mainly C. calcarata, C. glauca and C. verrucosa, source of Australian
sandarac).
- The exudate contains about one percent volatile oil.
- The best grades of sandarac are obtained from the ground near the tree.
- It is a hard, rather brittle, white spirit varnish which is generally mixed with other
varnishes before use.
- It is mainly used as a metal varnish giving good luster and as paper and leather
varnish.
- It has also been employed for preparing the surface of parchment for writing,
preservation of fine paintings and as an incense.
- It is also used for cementing glass and porcelain and in gold size.

Essential oils

Juniperus

- A similar use is made of Cedar oil obtained from red cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
mainly in USA.
- The oil, obtained from heartwood, is a very lasting balsamic preparation.
- The cedarwood oil, obtained from Juniperus Mexicana, finds its use in scenting
soaps, room sprays, deodorants, insecticides, moth proofing, floor polishes,
lubricating greases, etc.
- Another juniper species, J. oxycedrus yields ‘Oil of Cade’ with a tar-like odour
and warm bitter taste.
- The plant grows in Spain on the barren hillsides of Mediterranean.
- It is used in chronic eczema and other skin diseases and in medicated soaps.
- An important use of oil obtained from berries (fleshy cones) of J. communis is to
flavour liquors (gin and other alcoholic beverages).
- Italy is the largest producer followed by Hungary, Czech, Slovak and Yugoslavia.

17 | P a g e
- These berries are subjected to fermentation and subsequent distillation yields a
mixture of water, alcohol and oil.
- The oil, which had a burning and bitter flavour, is separated by concentrating the
alcohol.

Thuja

- The white cedar leaf oil (also called oil of Thuja) is obtained from leaves and
twigs of Thuja occidentalis.
- It is used in mixture for room sprays, disinfectants, insecticides and as household
and industrial cleanser.

Decoration

Cupressus

- Cupressus funebris is generally planted around tombs and religious buildings.


- Cupressus funebbris is commonly planted in China and India in cemeteries.

Podocarpaceae

Wood

Dacrydium

- In New Zealand, Dacrydium cupressinum, D. intermedium and D. biforme


together form about 51 per cent of the total sawn wood which is much valued for
general construction work, furniture, indoor finish, railway sleepers, and fence
posts.
- The wood is very strong and durable even when in contact with the ground.
- It is highly resinous and inflammable.
- The tannin-rich bark imparts red colour to leather.

- Dacrydium franklini (known as Huon pine named from the river in D´


Entrecasteaux Channel in the bed of which logs were found) occurring mainly on
the southern and western coasts of Tasmania.

- D. elatum growing in Borneo are used for making packing cases, furniture,
cabinet work and general carpentry.

- Fitzroya cupressoides grow in low swamp forests of chile.


- The brownish-red, fine and even textured timber is used for furniture, masts,
joinery and cooperage.

Phyllocladus

- The wood of Phyllocladus rhomboidalis (Tasmania) is used for making masts of


small vessels, flowing, and building purposes.

- P. trichomanoides in New Zealand yields a strong dense, heavy wood that finds
use in building work, mine, timbers, marine piles, and sleepers.

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Podocarpus

- Podocarpus amarus and P. elatus of New Zealand offer non-aromatic, fine


textured wood which is valued for carving work.
- It is also good for indoor work, and cabinet making.
- Being non-resinous, it is employed for packing dairy products.

- P. ferrugineus (also of New Zealand) yields a dark brown, hard and heavy timber
useful for cabinet making and ornamental work.

- P. gracilior, P. latifolius, P. milanjianus and P. usambarensis are large trees in


South Africa.
- Because of the absence of well-marked growth rings, the wood is even textured.
- It is used for plywood, joinery work, interior fittings, coach and wagon work and
railway sleepers.

- The timber from P. spicatus (New Zealand) is useful for general building
purposes, flooring, cabinet making and joinery.

- P. totara is the only softwood which is resistant to the attack of mine borer.
- This property makes it valuable for dock and sea work, and bridge and ship
building in New Zealand.
- Mottled wood is much favoured for furniture and cabinet making.
- The wood is also used for telegraph and telephone posts, fencing and sleepers.

- Chilean P. nubigenus and P. salignus produce wood of uniform texture.


- It finds its main use in carpentry, joinery, honey barrels and building purposes.

- The wood of Podocarpus neriifolius is of good quality and goes in for the making
of masts, tea-boxes and for carpentry.
- In India it is mainly used for oars, paddles, boat hooks, spars and masts.
- It is suitable for camp furniture, ladders and mathematical instruments.

Essential oils

Dacrydium

- Dacrydium franklinii yields an oil (known as huon-pine wood oil) which has
germicidal properties and is used in the treatment of perionychia, tinea, cuts and
wounds, as a preservative of casein and other nitrogenous products.
- It is also an excellent insect repellent and is used against wood borers.

Taxaceae

Wood

Taxus

- T. baccata, the common yew, offers the heaviest wood amongst the softwoods.

19 | P a g e
- The wood which is very durable, oily and decorative because of the irregular
growth rings is used for fence posts, veneers, furniture, flooring and panelling,
posts and turnery.
- Because of tertiary spiral thickenings in the tracheids, the wood in the past was
used for making bows.
- It is still being used in archery.
- The yew wood goes in the making of candlesticks and curios.

Fatty oils

Torreya

- The seeds of Torreya nucifera yield a fatty oil which is edible and also used for
paints.

Food

Torreya

- The seeds of Torreya nucifera are roasted and form an important articles of food
in Chile and Japan.

Decoration

- Taxus plants are used as ornamentals.

Drugs

Taxus

- The leaves of Taxus baccata are used in asthma, bronchitis, hiccough, epilepsy
and for indigestion.
- The whole plant contains taxine, a toxic principle, which is higher in leaves,
shoots and seeds.
- It is an active heart poison.
- Taxol (from Taxus brevifolia) has been shown to be effective against ovarian
cancer, breast cancer, non-small-cell cancer, melanoma and colon cancer.
- Since several thousand trees have to be felled to get a small quantity of the
chemical, efforts are on to use tissue culture to produce taxol.
- The possibility of alternative sources like bulk processing of needles, root culture,
genetic engineering and chemical synthesis is also bebing investigated (Edington,
1991)

Cephalotaxaceae

Fatty oils

Cephalotaxus

- The fatty oil obtained from the seeds of Cephalotaxus drupacea is used as an
illuminant in Japan.

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CYCADALES

FOOD

- In many parts of the world, cycads are used as a source of starch either from the
seed kernels or from stem pith.

- The cycads have long been known to be poisonous in nature.


- Eating seed kernels can be an acute irritant and an intake of cycad leaves can
affect nerves.
- The poisonous principle is inactivated by heating.

- Several neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s syndrome, Parkinsonian


disease and a wasting disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are supposedly
caused by consumption of cycads.

DECORATION

- In tropical and sub-tropical areas, cycads are used as outdoor plantations due to
their beautiful and graceful appearance.
- They, however, are a beauty of the green houses in temperate regions.
- Articles carved out of wood of many gymnosperms are also used as decorative
pieces.

OTHER USES

- The blue green algae Anabaena occurs in a symbiotic association in the root
nodules of cycads.
- In addition, the nitrogen fixing bacteria (Azotobacter and Pseudomonas
radicicola) are also present.
- It is assumed that nodules in cycads assist in nitrogen fixation.

Cycadaceae

Food

- Sago (the stem starch) is mainly obtained from Cycas circinalis, C. rumphii and
C. revoluta, and also from Zamia and Macrozamia.

Encephalartos

- The pith of Encephalartos stem is used in Africa to make ‘Kaffir bread’.


- With the large scale introduction of maize, the use of Encephalartos as the source
of starch has declined.
- The seeds, however, are liked by wild animals especially baboons, rodents and
even elephants.

Cycas

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- The young unfolded succulent leaves of Cycas circinalis, C. pectinata, C. rumphii
and C. siamensis are cooked and eaten in the Malay Peninsula, Phillipines, India,
Indonesia, etc.
- Their excessive use, however, can be toxic.

- The toxic substance in Cycas circinalis is an important glycoside called pakoein.


- Pakoein is pale yellow in colour, soluble in water but insoluble in organic solvents
such as alcohol, benzene, chloroform and ether.
- From the seeds of C. revolute a toxic glycoside cycasin has been obtained which
is identical in spectral properties to macrozamn.
- As the animal is unable to move, it dies of starvation.

- Seeds of Cycas, Dioon edule and D. spinulosum are a rich source of starch.
- In India, the seeds of Cycas are dried for a month until the fleshy testa shrivels
and cracks.
- The starch from the seed kernels is extracted in a way similar to that of
preparation of sago from the stems.
- The seeds of C. media and Macrozamia are regularly taken by the Australian
aboriginals.
- Cycas seeds are made into a paste and eaten as cakes in Nicobar islands.

Macrozamia

- Macrozamia spiralis and M. reidlei are an important source of stem starch in


Australia.
- M. reidlei starch has been used for laundry.
- M. spiralis starch has been exploited for conversion into power alcohol.
- The starchy interior after properly inactivating the poisonous principle by boiling,
is used as a food for poultry, dairy animals and pigs.

- The toxin, crystalline substance obtained from Macrozamia spiralis has been
named as macrozamin.
- ‘Zamia staggers’ is the name of the disease which affects cattle that feed on
Macrozamia leaves.

Dioon

- The buds and cones of Dioon edule cause emaciation and partial paralysis in
cattle.

Drugs

Cycas

- The powdered stem of Cycas pectinata is used as a hair wash in Assam for
diseased hair roots.
- The juice of young leaves of C. revoluta finds use for flatulence and vomiting
blood.
- C. rumphii pollen is believed to be a narcotic.
- In Indian markets male cone scales of C. rumphii and C. circinalis are sold as an
anodyne to lessen pain.

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- Cycas seeds are used as an emetic, and cure for boils, sores, wounds, etc.

Decoration

Cycas

- Various Cycas species are cultivated in the garden as palms.

Other uses

- Small amount of gum is obtained from Dioon edule, and species of Encephalartos
and Macrozamia.

Cycas

- Of all the members of Cycadaceae, Cycas is known for the production of gum,
which exudes through gum canals exposed by wounds in megasporophylls, stems
and leaves.
- It has been used medicinally as an antidote for snake and insect bites.
- It also produces rapid suppuration when applied to malignant ulcers.

- Dried leaves of Cycas revoluta are used for decorative purposes

GINKGOALES

Ginkgoaceae

Food

Ginkgo

- The seeds of Ginkgo biloba are roasted and form an important articles of food in
Chile and Japan.
- Excessive consumption of Ginkgo seeds may prove fatal.

Decoration

- Ginkgo plants are used as ornamentals.


- Ginkgo biloba is grown in groups or as avenue trees.
- The male trees are preferred, as the ripened ovules (on female plants) have a
disagreeable odour, like that of rancid butter.
- However, the male and female plants cannot be distinguished in the vegetative
state.
- The plant is exceptionally resistant to attacks of insects and fungi and can be
grown successfully in modern cities.

Drugs

Ginkgo

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- An extract of leaves of Ginkgo biloba is useful in the treatment of cerebral
insufficiency and vertigo.
- G. biloba is an important source of C20 trilactone ginkgolide compounds which
antagonize platelet activating factor (PAF) in vertebrate blood systems.

EPHEDRALES

Ephedraceae

Drugs

Ephedra

- The alkaloid ephedrine is extracted from the green branches of Ephedra sinica, E.
equisetina and E. gerardiana.
- Ephedrine is an important ingredient in the cough mixtures because of its action
in dilating the bronchial tube.
- It also contracts mucous membranes and is used in nasal drops and inhalents.
- Ephedrine is now synthesized commercially still local requirements are made
from plants.

2.
a. Differentiate between gymnosperms and angiosperms.
b. Write the affinities between gymnosperms and angiosperms.

c. Differentiate between pteridophytes and gymnosperms.


d. Write the affinities between pteridophytes and gymnosperms.

3. Write a note on coralloid root of Cycas.

Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Similarities

The seed bearing plants are broadly divided into a single class known as Sprematophyta, which
is further sub-divided into angiosperms andgymnosperms. The word gymnosperm is derived from
Greek word gymnospermos, meaning 'naked seed'. Angiosperms and gymnosperms are both
seed bearing plants. Although, differences are more distinct, the points mentioned below are
some of the similarities between them.

• They are capable of producing pollen for fertilization and their fertilization
is siphonogamous, i.e through a pollen tube. Gymnosperms mostly depend on wind
pollination and some angiosperms are also dependent on the same agent.
• The sporophyte of angiosperms and gymnosperm is differentiated into root, stem and
leaves.
• Apart from primary growth, their stem undergoes expansion by secondary growth.
• Like angiosperms, gymnosperms also have vessels and companion cells. The vascular
system is common for the both of them consisting of conjoint and vascular bundles (open
and collateral).
• Ovules of angiosperms and gymnosperms develop into seeds. The mode of seed
germination is epigeal and hypogeal or both.
• One distinct similarity is, reduced gametophytic phase of both angiosperms and
gymnosperms.

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• Polyembryony, a common feature of gymnosperms is also prevalent in some
angiosperms and a suspensor is formed during the embryo development phase.

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