Acacia catechu
Cutch tree

Acacia catechu drawingOrigin

From the southern Himalayas to Andhra Pradesh in India and eastwards to Thailand.


Annual rainfall: 5002000mm.

Normal temp range: -139C.

Altitude range: Up to 1500m.

Seasonal adaptability: Dry season up to 34 months.

Soils: Sandy, gravelly alluvium, loamy and sandy clay soils. Can grow on poor shallow calcareous soils. Does poorly on clay or poorly drained soils.

Light requirement: Strong light demander.

Other site limitations: Seedlings are intolerant of frost.


Height at maturity: 20m.

Diameter at breast height (1.3m) at maturity: up to 60cm.

Form: Poor, short stem and spreading crown.

Coppicing ability: Good in full light at young age.

Growth: On a good site about 1m in height and 1cm in diameter per year for the first 10 years, then slows considerably.

Other: A small or medium-sized deciduaos thorny tree, with peeling dark grey bark. Flower clusters white to pale yellow, 510cm long, in leaf axils. Leaves bipinnate 1520 cm long at the base of each leaf.

Primary advantages

Ready market for products in certain areas.

Primary disadvantages

Slow growth, poor stem quality.

Products and yields

Wood products: Main products are cutch, used for tanning and dyeing, and katha, which is chewed with betel nut. These are extracted from the heartwood by boiling. The strong durable timber is used for house posts, tools, wheels etc, fuelwood and charcoal, hardwood. Yield 15m3/ha/year. Yield of heartwood 5075m3 at 60 years, yielding 46 tonnes of cutch. Wood density 0.81.2.

Fuelwood: 6127kcal/kg.

Fodder: Leaves (1319% protein).

Other: Medicinal use for the bark to treat diarrhea, dysentry and wounds, the seeds for antibacterial action. The tree is also a host for lac cultivation.


From seed or cuttings. Seedlings are grown in a nursery, transferred to bags and planted out when 3050cm tall. Direct seeding possible in moist areas.

Seed treatment

Collect pods as soon as ripe and extract seeds when dry. Viability 68 months. Pretreatment: immerse in boiling water, allow to cool for 24 hours, or soak in concentrated sulphuric acid for 2030 minutes.


Young trees require weeding and protectioni from fire and grazing. Plant 36 months old seedlings at 2x4 or 4x6m spacing. Trees with girth of 60120 cm are suitable for harvesting.

Agroforestry uses

Intercropping, field margins, trees on farms.

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