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Record Number


PROSEA Handbook Number

5(2): Timber trees; Minor commercial timbers


Acacia catechu (L.f.) Willd.

This article should be read together with the article on the genus: Acacia in the Handbook volume indicated above in this database.


Sp. Pl. ed. 4, 4: 1079 (1806).


Acacia chundra Willd. (1806).

Vernacular Names

Cutch tree, catechu tree (En). Acacie au cachou (Fr). Burma (Myanmar): sha. Thailand: sisiat-nua (central), sisiat (northern).


Pakistan, Nepal, India and Burma (Myanmar); sometimes planted in India, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand and Java.


The wood is used as wattle, e.g. for posts, agricultural implements, wheels and carts; chips are used for the manufacture of hardboard. The wood is also used as firewood and yields excellent charcoal. More important is the "cutch"" or "kath"" obtained from the heartwood for tanning. This concentrated extract is also used for dyeing. Concentrated cutch is used for chewing with betel, and for medicinal purposes, especially for the treatment of coughs and sore throat.


A small tree up to 15 m tall, bark surface peeling off in long stripes, or sometimes in rectangular plates, dark grey or greyish-brown, inner bark brown or red, branchlets with paired prickles just below the stipules; leaves bipinnate with 9—30 pairs of pinnae, these with (13-)18—50 pairs of leaflets, rachis glandular; flowers in spikes, 5-merous, corolla 1—1.5 mm long; pod strap-shaped, (1—)4—14 cm (0.8—)1.1—2.4 cm, transversely veined. Acacia catechu occurs naturally in deciduous forest and savanna, usually on sandy soils along rivers, up to 1500 m altitude. It has been introduced in monsoon areas in Java. The wood is comparatively heavy with a density of 880—1000 kg/m3 at 15% moisture content.

Selected Sources

[78]Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. 2nd edition. Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur. Vol. 1 (A–H) pp. 1–1240. Vol. 2 (I–Z) pp. 1241–2444.
[115]Dahms, K.-G., 1982. Asiatische, ozeanische und australische Exporthölzer [Asiatic, Pacific and Australian export timbers]. DRW-Verlag, Stuttgart. 304 pp.
[162]Flora Malesiana (various editors), 1950–. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Boston, London.
[234]Heyne, K., 1927. De nuttige planten van Nederlands-Indid [The useful plants of the Dutch East Indies]. 2nd edition, 3 volumes. Departement van Landbouw, Nijverheid en Handel in Nederlandsch-Indid, 's-Gravenhage. 1953 pp.
[300]Kobmoo, B., Chaichanasuwat, O. & Pukittiyacamee, P., 1990. A preliminary study on the pretreatment of seed of leguminous species. The Embryon 3(1): 6–10.
[369]Lemmens, R.H.M.J. & Wulijarni-Soetjipto, N. (Editors), 1991. Plant resources of South-East Asia No 3. Dye and tannin-producing plants. Pudoc, Wageningen. 195 pp.
[649]Turnbull, J.W., 1986. Multipurpose Australian trees and shrubs. Lesser known species for fuelwood and agroforestry. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra. 316 pp.


F. Arentz

Correct Citation of this Article

Arentz, F., 1995. Acacia catechu (L.f.) Willd.. In: Lemmens, R.H.M.J., Soerianegara, I. and Wong, W.C. (Editors): Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 5(2): Timber trees; Minor commercial timbers. PROSEA Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia. Database record:

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