Kaluwara tree in Sri Lanka is a plant endemic to Sri Lanka. It is botanically known as Diospyros Ebenum, and the ebony tree belongs to the genus Ebenezer. About 22 other plants belonging to the genus Diospyros belonging to the Kaluwara tree have been identified in Sri Lanka. This genus grows like a plant, tree or shrub. Ulmediriya, Kaluhabaraliya, Mediriya, Walmediriya, Thimbiri, Kadumberiya, Ginibulu, Kalu Kadumberiya, Kunumella, Kahakela, Ritikudumberiya, Homadiriya are some of the other plants belonging to the kaluwara family. Kaluwara tree in English is called Karunkali, Kakkagwali in Tamil.
Characteristics of The Tree
The tree grows very slowly to a height of 20-25 m. The leaves are about 5-8 inches long. The branches of the old trees are wide and round. Bark black to grey. Flowers yellow to white. The same tree produces Pumangi and Zhayangi flowers. The flowers are very fragrant. The core is black to brown. This is why the tree is called Kaluwara ( black tree). This is a very strong type of wood. Annual rainfall is 1500-2500 m.m. is suitable for tree growth. It grows in regions up to 1800 feet above sea level.
Countries where Kaluwara Tree Grows
This plant is found in a limited number of countries in the South Indian region including Sri Lanka. The tree is endemic to Africa, Zaire, Nigeria, and Indonesia. It is native to the forests of Tamil Nadu and the southern part of the state of Karnataka. It is limited to the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats and Andhra Pradesh.
The Kaluwara Tree of Sri Lanka
Kaluwara tree can be seen as a medium-sized plant in the lowland dry zone of Sri Lanka and under the intermediate zone monsoon climate. These trees are still found in limited numbers in national parks in the dry zone of our country. The tree is frequently threatened by illegal timber smugglers.
When the Kaluwara wood is in the middle, a bright black colour is obtained. This is considered to be a very strong hardwood and is free from insect pests. Cutting down Kaluwara trees is prohibited. However, limited logging permits are issued under special circumstances. Kaluwara tree is used for carving, lathes, and for luxury goods. Today there is a limited supply of carvings, statues, etc., but this wood is not available for furniture. The timber of this plant has been banned from being exported to Sri Lanka as well as India.
The Kaluwara plant was first given a botanical name in 1776 by Konig. It is a special thing to give in Sri Lanka. During the colonial period of Sri Lanka, large quantities of Kaluwara timber were cut down from the forests of our country and taken abroad. In 1910 alone, 2635 tons of Kaluwara timber were auctioned off to foreigners.
It is a pity that this precious plant is on the verge of extinction today due to the unlimited felling of trees from the past. Transport permits for Kaluwara timber out are issued by the Forest Department. Exports of Kaluwara logs and timber have also been banned. According to the State Timber Corporation classification, dry timber is a type of solid wood. Gr. It weighs about 1190 lbs. A cubic meter of Kaluwara wood (middle round meter) costs Rs. 123,228. According to the Red Data Book published in 2007, the kaluwara plant has been named as an endangered plant species in Sri Lanka.
Considering the importance of this plant, the Research Division of the State Timber Corporation in collaboration with the Biodiversity Secretariat of the Ministry of Environment has established a Biodiversity Park for the conservation of Kaluwara plants at the premises of the State Timber Corporation, Minneriya.
Evidence suggests that the Kaluwara tree was used in Egypt 4,500 years ago. Since then, timber has been in great demand in the Roman Empire. It went to Rome about 2000 years ago today. Kaluwara tree came to Europe 400 years ago today during the Renaissance. After the conquest of India by the British, the colonial rulers proceeded to cut down and ship the Kaluwara trees on a large scale. The same fate befell the kaluwara tree, which was common in the forests of Ceylon.
The Kaluwara Tree went to Germany in the 14th-15th centuries. It is located along the trade route through Venice. From there to the North Sea across the Netherlands there is a demand for Kaluwara wood. That demand has been met by cutting down Kaluwara trees in the forests of India. The Kaluwara timber trade was a major source of income for India at that time.