At a Glance Government People and Culture Tourism in Arunachal Pradesh Biodiversity Directory

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Medicinal Plants

Toko(Palm Tree)

Cymtridum Orchid

Toko ( A Palm Tree)

Toko belongs to the family Arecaceae(palmae). This beautiful palm is found only in the northeast region of our country. It is distributed in the tropical belt and grows in lower plains and hill slopes. The people have been using this species since time immemorial.  It is extensively used in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. It is also of cultural importance to the people of the state particularly to the interior and far flung areas. 
This multipurpose tree provides different utility items like the leaves, fibre and fruits. It has great potential of income generation and rural employment. The silviculture aspects of the plant are discussed in the following section which may be useful in farming and management of this valuable natural resource.  
Photo of Toko Plantation in a village
Botanical name : Livistona jenkinsiana Griff.
Toko - Multipurpose Palm Tree
   Toko - Multipurpose Palm Tree
Vernacular names : Toko, Ow/Toak (Nishi), Taa-ck (Adi), Tokou (Assamese), Talai nyom, Purbong (Lepcha), Assam Fan Palm( Engilish).

Morphology and description
This is an unbranched graceful palm attaining a height of 20-30 m at diameter at breast height. The crown is globose, borne at the tip of the solitary stem. This palm, unlike other palms does not show the persistent leaf scars. However, it has a rough surface and are brownish grey in appearance. Leaves palmately dissected partly and are reniform or oval in shape, plicate, divided into 70-100 segments(2-15) segments during seeding stage). In general, the leaves have a size of 1.8 – 2.5 m X 1.5-1.8 m and are borne on a long petiole with stout spines along the petiole margins.

Inflorescences appear axillary and interfoliar, 1-1.5 m long, peduncle strong flattened, 4-6 m long. The spathe(bract) reddish brown, boat shaped, hard and striate. The inflorescence is much branched panicled with numerous lateral branches. Flowers creamy white/yellow, small,clustered on tubercles at base, solitary or paired on the distal parts of the branches (rachilla). Perianth lobes 3, hard and stout, stamens 3. Fruits drupe 1.8 – 2.5 cm in diameter,globose,copper-clue in colour when ripe, pericarp leathery and fleshy. Seeds globose, shinning brown with a broad raphae like line, endosperm horny, whitish. Flowering takes place during February to March. Fruiting occur from September to December.

The tree is endemic to northeast India. It grows upto an elevation of 1100 m . It is usually encountered in nature in the tropical evergreen forests and sub-tropical broad leaved forests. Through the species is found in all the districts, the larger concentration is towards the central and eastern parts of the state particularly in Upper Subsnsiri, West Siang and East Siang district. Apart from its natural occurrence, it is largely cultivated the local people in their jhum/community lands and village areas. It may also be mentioned that this palm is considered to be an endangered one and included in the red data book of Indian plants.

 Toko, as mentione earlier, is a multipurpose tree species of great value throughout the northeastern states. It is extensively used in the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. This plant is very important in the interior far flung areas. In fact it is almost like the mithun in importance to the people. Some of the uses of the different parts are mentioned in Table below.

Natural Regeneration
Natural regeneration occurs by means of the seeds. Profuse regeneration can be seen (as in West Siang district) in the vicinity of nature fruiting trees along partial open moist slopes. The seeds fallen over ground or carried over by birds and squirrel lime animals are dropped on soil during winter months start germination in good habitat with pre-monsoon showers in April-May and often establish to form plants. However, survival percentage is very low due to cattle damage and adverse ecological factors. Despite this, natural regeneration is usually observed as gregarious patches.

Leaves                         (i)         The leaves are used after proper drying as a roofing material for local houses. The leaves of kitchen room are said to last for 10 years or so, while leaves of other rooms for 4 to 5 years.
  (ii) Covering tops of doolies (Palanquins) and boats.
  (iii) Making hats (Japi) which is used to protect form rain.
  (iv) Making hand fans(Bichoni).
  (v) Midrib of the leaves is used to make coarse broom.
  (vi) Largely used in nursery as overhead shade.
Whole Plant           (i) As an ornamental and avenue plant. Fibrous sheaths
Fibrous sheaths (i) For making ropes.
  (ii) For making water resistant shields for shoulder bags used by different ethnic communities.
Fruits (i) Pericarp (outer cover) of ripe fruits which are blue in colour are eaten raw or as salad.
  (ii) Nut is edible and used as masticatery as a substitute of areca nut.
  (iii) Nuts are said to be used for making buttoms (Gamble 734:Cown & Cowan 138, For.Rec. India 1952 – 53. Pt.II 113.)
New shoots (i) New soft shoots are sometimes eaten as vegetable.
Stem (i) The cut stem is used as temporary log bridges to Cross over village streams and as posts for temporary structures.

Economics of Toko leaves:
After 15 years average 10 leaves can be extracted per plant per year.

Spacing :
4 m x 4 m in agroforestry models.(traditional cultivation has closer spacing)

Nos. of plants/ha            :   625 Nos.
Per Plant yield                :   10 leaves
Cost of one leaf              :    Rs. 4/-
Leaf yield/ha                  :    625 x 10 = 6250 leaves
Income from leaf sale     :    Rs. 25, 000/-    

Harvesting and Processing  :
50 man days @ 50/-per ha  : Rs. 25, 000/-
Transport cost Rs. L. S. 5000/- (approx.)
Total Expenditure         :      Rs. 75, 000/-
Net gain Rs. 25, 000   -   7, 500    =    Rs. 17, 500/ha
every alternate year which may continue for over 30 years.
Additional income can be obtained by the sale of seeds and seedlings.
For further details contact :
The Director,
State Forest Research Institute.
Van Vihar , PB No. 159,
Itanagar-791 111. Arunachal Pradesh
Tel. 0360- 203566 , Fax, 0360 - 203523.
E-mail : directorsfri@hotmail.com

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