Trees of Morni: Chhal (Axel-wood tree)

Chhal/Dhaura/Dhauri/ Dhau/Bakli/ Axle-wood tree (Anogeissus or Conocarpus latifolia) is a rugged, broad-leaved deciduous tree that is found in the Shivaliks and outer-Himalayas at altitudes upto 1250 metres. It grows well on well drained clayey/loamy slopes and may appear stunted on dry rocky slopes. Old leaves are shed in winter months with new leaves appearing with spring. Flowers appear in May and are small, without petals. Stone-fruits show in July. The trunk is generally straight and cylindrical under good growing conditions with a smooth pale grey bark with white flakes. Branches are drooping with the leaves oppositely arranged. The tree grows at a moderate pace and its hard, elastic wood is used by locals in making agricultural implements, house construction etc. It was used for making cart axels in the past and hence its name ‘axel-wood tree’. The green foliage is a popular source of fodder and the lopped branches are used as firewood. The tree’s actual growth potential is difficult to gauge as it is mercilessly pruned in winters when natural fodder is scarce and villagers fall back on chhal leaves to feed the cattle.In some parts of the country the tasar silkworms are made to feed on its foliage.

Chhal Tree, Rasoon May 2012
Chhal Leaves, May 2012
Chhal denuded in winters
Chhal flowers, November
Chhal Bark
Dhau flowers
Chhal Tree, Rasoon, November 2011