Study of various phenomena related to growth and development of plants such as photosynthesis, respiration, absorption and translocation of water and nutrients, transpiration, growth and reproduction, nitrogen, lipid and fat metabolisms, etc. comes under the domain of the Department of Physiology. The principal difference of trees from herbaceous plants is the greater distance over which water and minerals must be translocated and also in the larger percentage of non-photosynthetic tissue. A proper understanding of the physiological requirements of different tree forms is essential to predict, to a certain extent, as to how a particular species will grow in a particular geographical area/locality or will respond to a specific treatments.
One important problem is horticulture or forestry is the production of adequate quantity of genetically improved planting stock. For this vegetative propagation by rooted stem cuttings is one of the methods which can be used for producing propagating material of genetic uniformity in bulk. Vegetative propagation is advantageous for plants whose seeds germinate either slowly or poorly or plants that have a long juvenile period during which they do not produce flowers, fruits and seeds. In this regard only limited attempts are made in tropical trees and bamboos and there is no standard technique of vegetative propagation for many of the timber tree species. The Physiology Department undertakes studies on vegetative propagation of some important tree species, like Tectona grandis L.f., Melia dubia Cev., Xylia xylocarpa (Roxb.) Taub., Hopea parviflora Bedd., Swietenia mahogoni (L.) Jacq. and Gmelina arborea Roxb.
In the case of bamboos, the conventional method of raising plantations is from offsets or seeds. Since most of the bamboos produce seeds only twice or thrice a century, possibility of raising plantation from seeds is very limited. Planting offsets is even more difficult because of the problems of extraction and transport. The scientists in the department has made efforts to develop method of vegetative propagation of bamboos and reeds extensive and successful trials were conducted to induce rooting in culm and branch cuttings of different species using growth regulating substances. The species for which protocols available include: Bambusa balcooa Roxb., B. arundinacea Willd., B. polymorpha Munro, B. vulgaris Schard., Dendrocalamus strictus Nees, Ochlandra travancorica Gamble and O. scriptoria CEC Fisher.
Ongoing Research Projects
- Restoration and reassessment of selected IUCN listed endangered tress in the Western Ghats
- Population dynamics of selected endemic and threatened trees in the protected areas of Kerala: Temporal analysis in the contest of climate change
- Participatory NTFP yielding medicinal plants resource enhancement: Capacity building through protocols for propagation, enrichment planting and management practices of ten high demanding medicinal plants of Western Ghats, Kerala
- Standardization of sustainable harvesting methods for Jiggat species
Ongoing Extension Projects
- Continued operation of the broad band seismological observatory, Peechi, Kerala - Southern Peninsular India
- A multi-disciplinary database of RET plants of the Kerala State
- Recording of weather data at different centers of KFRI
- Strengthening and maintenance of institute bambusetum
Contact: Dr. MP Sujatha
Kerala Forest Research Institute
Peechi 680653, Thrissur, Kerala, INDIA