Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Dalbergia sissoo



Dalbergia sissoo


  • Last modified
  • 21 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Dalbergia sissoo
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • D. sissoo is a fast-growing nitrogen-fixing tree which can easily be propagated and will grow on any well-drained soil, even on pure sand. It is mainly grown for its durable heartwood, being among the finest general-use timbers in South A...

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TitleMature plantation
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
Mature plantation©K.M. Siddiqui
TitleYoung plantation
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
Young plantation©K.M. Siddiqui
TitleVariation in stem form
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
Variation in stem form©K.M. Siddiqui
Planting stock in the nursery.
CaptionPlanting stock in the nursery.
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
Planting stock in the nursery.
SeedlingsPlanting stock in the nursery.©K.M. Siddiqui
TitleBranch bearing pods
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
Branch bearing pods©K.M. Siddiqui
Fuelwood stacked in irrigated plantation in Pakistan.
TitleFuelwood plantation
CaptionFuelwood stacked in irrigated plantation in Pakistan.
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
Fuelwood stacked in irrigated plantation in Pakistan.
Fuelwood plantationFuelwood stacked in irrigated plantation in Pakistan.©K.M. Siddiqui
TitleYoung trees on farmland
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
Young trees on farmland©K.M. Siddiqui
TitlePowder-post beetle
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
Powder-post beetle©K.M. Siddiqui


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Dalbergia sissoo Roxb. ex DC.

Other Scientific Names

  • Amerimnon sissoo (Roxb. ex DC.) Kuntze

International Common Names

  • English: Bombay blackwood; Himalaya raintree; India teakwood; Indian dalbergia; Indian rosewood; Sisham; sissoo
  • Spanish: sisu
  • French: arbre de Shisham; ebénier jaune; ébénier juane; palissandre d'Asie

Local Common Names

  • Australia: penny-leaf
  • Bangladesh: shishu
  • Germany: Ostindisches Rosenholz; Palisanderholzbaum, Sissoo-; Rosenholzbaum, Sissoo-
  • India: agaru; biridi; errasissn; erra-sissu; gelte; gette; hiku; kara; karra; kattari; mukko-gette; nakkar; nukkukattai; padimi; shewa; shisam; shisha; shisham; shisham-bage; shishu; shisku; sihon; simsapa; sinsapa; sinsupa; sisam; sissai; sissi-utti; sissoo; sissu; sissua; sissu-karra; tahli; tali; tenach; yettle
  • Indonesia: sonowaseso
  • Pakistan: shisha; shisham; sihon; sisso; sissu; tahli
  • Thailand: du-khaek; pradu-khaek

EPPO code

  • DAGSI (Dalbergia sissoo)

Trade name

  • shisham
  • sissoo

Summary of Invasiveness

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D. sissoo is a fast-growing nitrogen-fixing tree which can easily be propagated and will grow on any well-drained soil, even on pure sand. It is mainly grown for its durable heartwood, being among the finest general-use timbers in South Asia and is commonly used for high class furniture and marine-grade plywood. It is also valued for fodder and soil conservation, and is also planted as an ornamental. It has been widely introduced, especially in Africa and Asia. However, it has naturalised in parts, regenerating profusely on newly-exposed sites by seed, and via suckering can form dense thickets. It is classified as an invasive species in Florida, USA and the Northern Territories, Australia, and has failed a risk assessment for the Pacific. It has shown a tendency to naturalise in other areas, but its use as a high value timber and agroforestry species may over-ride any risks of invasion in many developing countries.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Faboideae
  •                                 Genus: Dalbergia
  •                                     Species: Dalbergia sissoo

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The genus Dalbergia belongs to the legume family (Fabaceae), subfamily Papilionoideae. Dalbergia is a tropical genus containing 100 species of trees, shrubs and lianas. The genus is silviculturally and economically important, and D. sissoo is one of the most valuable members of the genus. Caution should be used with the common name, rosewood, which is applied to several legume trees producing fine reddish hardwoods.


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D. sissoo is a medium to large, deciduous, long-lived tree with a spreading crown and thick branches. It attains a height of up to 30 m and a girth of 2.4 m; the bole is often crooked. In Rawalpindi district, Pakistan, it also occurs in the form of a straggling bush at an altitude of 1500 m, clinging to crevices in the sides of sandstone cliffs (Troup, 1921). The bark is thick, rough and grey, and has shallow, broad, longitudinal fissures exfoliating in irregular woody strips and scales (Luna, 1996). D. sissoo develops a long taproot from an early age and has numerous lateral ramifying roots (Hocking, 1993). The leaves are compound, imparipinnate and alternate, with rachis 3.5-8 cm long, swollen at the base. There are 3-5 leaflets, each 3.5-9 x 3-7 cm; leaflets alternate, broadly ovate, conspicuously and abruptly cuspidate at the apex, rounded at the base, entire, coriaceous, pubescent when young and glabrous when mature. The terminal leaflet is larger than the others, and there are 8-12 pairs of veins in the leaflets (Parker, 1956; Luna, 1996). The inflorescence of D. sissoo is an axillary panicle 3.5-7.5 cm long, with small flowers, 7-9 mm long, white to yellowish-white with a pervasive fragrance, sessile, papilionaceous and hermaphrodite. The standard petal is narrow at the base and forms a low claw; wing and keel petals are oblong. Pods are 4.5-10 x 0.7-1.5 cm, linear-oblong, indehiscent, stipitate, glabrous, apex acute, reticulate against the seeds, and usually 1-4 seeded. Seeds are kidney-shaped, variable in size (8-10 x 4-5.5 mm), pale brown, brown to brownish-black, reniform, compressed, with papery testa (Parker, 1956; Singh, 1989; Luna, 1996).

Plant Type

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Seed propagated


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According to Troup (1921), D. sissoo is indigenous only to the sub-Himalayan tract in India and Pakistan, growing naturally here as well as in the outer Himalayan valleys up to 1000 m altitude and occasionally reaching 1500 m. It is found over a vast region extending from the Indus to Assam, except in the coldest, wettest and driest areas. However, a broader native range is used here as proposed by ILDIS (2007), from Oman to Burma and southern India, although it may well have been introduced to areas in earlier times.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 17 Dec 2021
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Planted Reference Notes


Sierra LeonePresentIntroduced
South AfricaPresentPlanted


IndiaPresent, WidespreadNativePlanted
-Andhra PradeshPresentNative
-Arunachal PradeshPresentNative
-Himachal PradeshPresentNative
-Jammu and KashmirPresentNative
-Madhya PradeshPresentNative
-Tamil NaduPresentNative
-Uttar PradeshPresentNative
-West BengalPresentNative
-Gaza StripPresentPlanted
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedPlanted



North America

Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroduced
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroduced
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced
U.S. Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced
United StatesPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasive


-New South WalesPresent, Few occurrencesIntroduced
-Northern TerritoryPresentIntroducedInvasive
-South AustraliaPresent, Few occurrencesIntroduced
-VictoriaPresent, Few occurrencesIntroduced
-Western AustraliaPresent, Few occurrencesIntroduced
French PolynesiaPresentIntroducedTahiti
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced

South America


History of Introduction and Spread

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In its native countries of India and Pakistan, D. sissoo has been widely planted in areas outside of its natural range. It has been established in irrigated plantations, along roadsides and canals, and around farms and orchards as windbreaks. It has been introduced in many countries around the world, especially in Africa, but also Asia, the Americas and Australasia (Streets, 1962; Webb et al., 1984; Haq, 1985; Luna, 1996). The tree has shown promising results in the Khartoum greenbelt (Sudan) with irrigation, but has been less successful in Ghana, northern Nigeria and Cameroon, and Togo (Ruskin, 1983). It is increasingly planted as a street tree in southern Florida and is becoming invasive. In other locations, the plantations are experimental. It was first recorded in Queensland, Australia in 1912, introduced to MacKay district in the 1930s and first observed to be spreading as a weed there in 1962, where it is described as a weed of bushlands and roadsides (Morton, 2007). It has spread further in Queensland since a previous survey in 1993, due it was thought to control being left to local landcare groups rather than state and local government (Morton, 2007).

Risk of Introduction

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As D. sissoo is a very useful multipurpose tree and used as a street tree, the risk of further introductions is high. It is included on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council: Invasive Plant List as a Category II pest (USDA-NRCS, 2007) and is declared a noxious weed in the Northern Territory, Australia, as a Class A pest (to be eradicated north of latitude 18°S) and a Class C pest (must not be introduced into the Northern Territory), and it is prohibited in Western Australia (Morton, 2007). D. sissoo has also failed risk assessments for both Australia and the Pacific, recording a high score in both cases with a recommendation that no further introduction of this species takes place (PIER, 2007). However, its potential high value for forestry and agroforestry purposes may be more important in some countries, especially where alternative species are lacking.


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In its native range, abundant moisture and lack of competition are the key to its successful regeneration; it is therefore found in riverine environments where sunlight and moisture are plentiful. It is associated with Pinus roxburghii, Acacia catechu and Shorea robusta. D. sissoo is adapted to a seasonal monsoon climate and a dry season of up to 6 months. D. sissoo is most typically found on seasonally inundated alluvium and on eroded/gullied areas in the sub-Himalayan tract, in river-beds, along water channels and on alluvial flats subject to annual floods. It is a gregarious colonizer of landslips, hillsides, roadsides, new embankments, grasslands and other places where mineral soil is exposed, and is often preceded by Saccharum munja, Saccharum spontaneum and Tamarix dioca when stream and rivers alter their courses or add fresh deposits of sand, shingle and boulders (Troup, 1921; Parker, 1956; Streets, 1962). The tree is a characteristic species of the khair-sissoo primary seral-type forest, and tropical dry mixed deciduous and dry deciduous scrub forest types, occurring in open and low forest formations composed entirely of deciduous trees and some trees of the thorn forest type, with a predominantly deciduous shrub layer, and are limited to Himalayan foothills and adjoining Siwaliks, and recent alluvial deposits (Champion et al., 1965).

Where introduced, it appears most suitable for the moist tropics and subtropics at altitudes up to 1000 m, and growth is most prolific in areas where there is considerable soil moisture, but not in waterlogged soils, and in the Northern Territory, Australia, it grows mostly on sands and gravels along watercourses, sometimes spreading into the drier forests and plains (PIER, 2007). It has naturalized on sand dunes around Darwin and may be expected to spread further in similar habitats elsewhere (Morton, 2007).

Habitat List

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Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalScrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalScrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalScrub / shrublands Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
LittoralCoastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
LittoralCoastal dunes Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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Considerable variation occurs in stem form and growth even in one-year-old D. sissoo seedlings, as shown by a high coefficient of variation for 23 one-year-old open-pollinated progenies (Vidakovic and Siddiqui, 1968). Poor stem form, crooked bole and forking are major drawbacks in this species, and these traits appear to be under a high degree of genetic control (Vidakovic and Ahsan, 1970). In Pakistan, half-sib progenies of D. sissoo showed significant differences among three geographical sources in a 6-year-old experimental plantation (Rehman and Hussain, 1986). A trial of 27 provenances established at New Forest, Dehra Dun, India, has shown highly significant differences in growth between provenances (Tewari, 1994), and ten seed and seedling characteristics showed significant differences in trait means and variances over the entire natural range in India (Vakshashya, 1992). Seed weight was found to be an important variable for the selection of suitable seed sources, and it was also shown that there may be dry and wet zone populations in this species (Luna, 1996).

Reproductive Biology
This species reproduces mostly by seed, by it is also able to root sucker, and it can thus form dense thickets. At 9 months, D. sissoo starts producing flowers profusely, these are small bisexual flowers borne on small branches from the leaf axis. It is not known with any degree of certainty if D. sissoo is insect- or wind-pollinated, or if both vectors play a role. It is also uncertain whether it is a self-pollinating or outcrossing species, or both, or when pollination and fertilization occur (Vidakovic and Ahsan, 1970), but it appears to be insect pollinated and trees can apparently be both self- and out-crossing to varying degrees depending on local conditions (ICRAF, 2007). There are 40,000-50,000 seeds per kilogram, but the number of viable seed is about 25,000. Normally, every year is a good seed year (Troup, 1921). Fresh seed has 7.5% moisture and 95-100% germination. The seed, when stored dry or at 5°C in a cold store, retains its viability for one year with 70-90% germination (Pakistan Forestry Institute, 1997).
Physiology and Phenology
In its natural range the leaves begin to fall in November, turning brown prior to abscission. In colder climates, the tree may be leafless by the beginning of December, while in some areas the leaves persist until the end of January. In very moist situations and warmer areas, some leaves may persist, while new leaves start appearing in the first half of February with flushing completed by the first of week of March (Haq, 1985). Young flower buds appear with the new leaves and open in March-April. The pods are prominent by April and full-sized by July. They turn brown and the seed ripens by December or early January (Haq, 1985). Mature pods can remain attached to the tree for 7-8 months (ICRAF, 2007).

D. sissoo
is a strong light demander from the seedling stage onwards. Only vigorous trees attain large size in dense stands and these tend to suppress and kill weaker trees (Troup, 1921). D. sissoo coppices and throws root suckers vigorously and profusely, often sending up masses of shoots. It has the ability to withstand frequent lopping for fuelwood for many years. D. sissoo is not fire-resistant.

The roots are dimorphous, comprising nutrition roots without buds which penetrate downwards into the soil and long horizontal roots with buds, from which suckers are produced. The seedlings produce a long taproot at an early age, which becomes thick during the sapling stage. In trees, the taproot is sometimes thicker than the bole itself; it may consist of several branches with numerous subsidiary fibrous nutrition roots. The lateral roots may also attain considerable size; these remain near the ground surface. The tree is generally wind-firm due to the root system, but windthrow is not uncommon in irrigated plantations in Pakistan. Weed competition adversely affects D. sissoo regeneration and growth (Bokhari, 1973).

D. sissoo is a nitrogen-fixing species in symbiosis with Rhizobium.
Environmental Requirements

D. sissoo grows naturally under subtropical climatic conditions (Singh, 1989) characterized by a mean annual temperature of 18-24°C and mean January temperature of 10-15°C, with a pronounced winter and occasional frost (Siddiqui, 1997). However, in its natural habitat and in areas of its introduction in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent, the absolute maximum temperature of the hottest month may be as high as 50°C and the minimum -4°C (Hocking, 1993). In its natural range, the annual rainfall varies from 750 to 4500 mm, most of it falling in June to September (Gupta, 1993; Luna, 1996). However, it is mainly considered for planting in areas with an annual rainfall of 1000-1700 mm although it can survive with only 400 mm rainfall and can withstand up to a 9 month dry season (Booth and Jovanovic, 2000). It prefers porous soils with adequate moisture, light/medium texture, and neutral to acidic reaction, and which may be composed of sand, pebbles and boulder alluvium (Luna, 1996). D. sissoo does not grow well on badly-drained stiff clayey soils, or moderately or highly saline soils. Its growth is also poor on rocky outcrops and hilly cliffs, where heavy mortality is observed.


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Af - Tropical rainforest climate Tolerated > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Tolerated Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
30 30 0 1500

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -4
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 23 33
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 33 42
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 6 17


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration49number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall4004500mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Notes on Natural Enemies

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D. sissoo is attacked severely by many pathogens. Fusarium wilt is caused by Nectria haematococca, a facultative parasite which inhabits the soil and attacks the tree through dying or weakened roots, and clayey soils and waterlogged conditions favour the development of the disease, it being absent in highly sandy soils with a low percentage of silt provided that the drainage is good. D. sissoo may exhibit wilt in areas with a high water table which rises during the rainy season. Characteristic symptoms of the disease are yellowing and death of leaves in acropetal succession up the tree and affected trees die within a few months (Bakhshi, 1957), and it can cause mass mortality, with almost the entire mortality of sissoo in northern India attributed to N. haematococca, which also causes sissoo decline in Pakistan (Shukla, 2002). Fusarium oxysporum is also common among young trees growing in marshy or waterlogged tracts, canalside plantations, and in depressions along roadsides (Beg and Jamal, 1974). Ganoderma lucidum causes root rot of D. sissoo in both natural forests and in plantations, inhabiting the roots, infecting them through root contact or injured surfaces, affected trees have a stags-head appearance and are eventually killed (Bakhshi, 1971). Oxyporus latemarginatus also causes root rot (Beg and Jamal, 1974), and a butt rot of trees is caused by Phellinus gilvus. Cercospora sissoo attacks the leaves of D. sissoo, mostly on the lower surface, producing a yellow to greyish-green discoloration (Sydow and Mitter, 1933; Qureshi et al., 1969). Colletogloeum sissoo has also been recorded on D. sissoo leaves causing imperceptible spots (Pavgi and Singh, 1971). Phyllachora dalbergiae [Phyllachora viventis] attacks the upper surface of leaves producing shiny black, cushion-like stromata either scattered or in clusters (Saccardo, 1883). Mycosphaerella dalbergiae causes leaf spot in Pakistan (Browne, 1968). The powdery mildew Phyllactinia dalbergiae produces persistent, yellowish, dense mycelium on the lower surface of sissoo leaves (Pirozynski, 1965). Maravalia achroa attacks the leaves and juvenile twigs and seedlings in nurseries. Uredo sissoo attacks all ages in nurseries, plantations and natural forests (Bakshi and Sunjan Singh, 1967). Leaf blight caused by Rhizoctonia solani is recorded from Dehra Dun, India (Tewari, 1994). Glomerella cingulata and Septothyrella dalbergiae have been recorded on pods from India (Pavgi and Singh, 1971).

A large number of insect pests have been recorded on D. sissoo including wood borers, leaf defoliators, leaf miners, leaf rollers and sap suckers (Mathur and Singh, 1959). About a dozen beetles belonging to the Curculionidae are defoliators. The larvae of a large number of insect pests belonging to Geometridae, Lymantridae, Noctuidae and Nymphalidae defoliate the trees. Some of the leaf miners are members of the family Lyonetiidae and the leaf rollers belong to the Curculionidae. Several insects of Aleyrodidae, Aphididae, Coccidae and Mambracidae feed on sap. Luna (1996) notes that D. sissoo is attacked by 125 insect pests, of which 10 are considered important. Plecoptera reflexa causes defoliation by heavy and repeated attacks, resulting in reduced growth and mortality in plantations (Qadri, 1952; Chaudhry, 1954; Chaudhry and Gul, 1984). Leucoptera sphenograpta caterpillars mine into leaves of D. sissoo destroying the palisade and large veins. Cladobrostis melitricha bores into the living twigs of trees causing heavy branch loss in crowns. Among the sapsuckers, Drosicha mangiferae and D. stebbingi are important. The biggest threats to D. sissoo are heartwood borers, important species being Crossotarsus externedentatus and Aristobia horridula (Tewari, 1994). Agrilus dalbergiae is a bark borer causing weakening and mortality of trees (Gul and Chaudhry, 1983). Bruchus pisorum infests seeds in the field but breeding can continue during storage (Rehman, 1993).

The mistletoes Loranthus involucratus, Loranthuslongiflorus and Loranthus pulverulentus attack branches and twigs, and Cuscuta reflexa and Dendrophthoe falcata are also recorded in India (Browne, 1968).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)
The papery seed pods can be dispersed by wind and water, and seeds may also be dispersed by water, and can be spread considerable distances by floodwater (Morton, 2007).
Vector Transmission (Biotic)
The papery pods are not attractive to livestock or other animals, though some consumption and dispersal of seeds may be possible.
Accidental Introduction
There are no recorded cases of accidental introduction of this highly valued tree species.
Intentional Introduction

The principle means of long-distant dispersal of D. sissoo has been its intentional introduction as a high value timber species, and also for its multipurpose nature, producing fodder and being used for soil conservation and in agroforestry systems.

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Water Yes Morton (2007)
Wind Yes Morton (2007)

Impact Summary

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Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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The economic impacts of D. sissoo on a global level are almost exclusively positive. This is a highly valued hardwood timber species, providing an additional income source in agroforestry systems, mostly in India and Pakistan, but increasingly, elsewhere. According to Chaturvedi (1956), ‘shisham (D. sissoo) is a friend of the farmer, as well as the forester; a tree which pays rich dividends’. Planting D. sissoo on farmlands in Pakistan is economically feasible (Siddiqui, 1993) and the use of D. sissoo as an agroforestry component with a wheat crop has been shown to be financially superior to wheat monocropping, generating a higher net present value than other alternatives over a period of 20 years (Subhan, 1990).

Environmental Impact

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Being a nitrogen-fixing species widely used in agroforestry, D. sissoo is acknowledged for its environmental benefits, increasing soil fertility and reducing soil erosion. However, it has shown the potential to form dense thickets that reduce grazing areas in two areas of the world. In Florida, USA it invades both disturbed and undisturbed sites and has been found in and around hardwood forests and pine rockland habitat in Miami-Dade county, and has exhibited the ability to crowd out native plants in this habitat, and will regenerate profusely on newly-exposed sites. It is a FLEPPC category II invasive plant, i.e. invasive exotics that have increased in abundance or frequency but have not yet altered Florida plant communities to the extent shown by Category I species. These species may become ranked Category I, if ecological damage is demonstrated. It is also a declared noxious weed in Northern Territories, Australia, where it is spreading along watercourses.

Social Impact

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As a widely planted street tree, D. sissoo clearly has positive aesthetic benefits. Also, as a valuable tree planted on farmland in South Asia especially, it provides a diversified and much need additional income to many rural families with the associated benefits. In spite of reductions in crop productivity due to competition for nutrients, moisture and light, growing D. sissoo on farms yields numerous environmental and socioeconomic benefits. It ameliorates microclimate, controls soil erosion, improves soil fertility, provides timber, fuelwood, fodder and other minor products (e.g. honey) of high economic value, and thus provides socioeconomic benefits to rural areas. D. sissoo is a tree species highly preferred by farmers because of its ease of propagation by self-seeding, coppice, root suckers and stumps, and for its numerous wood and non-wood products. The strong development of root suckers and runners favours its use as a living barrier against soil movement, and for this reason it is planted across the bottom of eroding gullies. In many Mediterranean countries, D. sissoo is valued as an ornamental (Ruskin, 1983).

Risk and Impact Factors

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  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately


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In India and Pakistan, D. sissoo is generally grown in block plantations established under irrigation or in floodplains. The most common method of artificial regeneration uses stump plants from 1-2 year old nursery seedlings; with up to 100% survival rates. Pruning of lower branches in the early stages of growth helps to produce a clear bole, and thinning is commonly carried out at every 5 years, and in India and Pakistan, rotations of 10-22 years are used for the production of fuelwood and small timber in irrigated plantations, 40-60 years for larger timber. In India and Pakistan, annual growth rates of 10-22 cubic metres per hectare have been recorded from plantations (Gupta, 1993; Hocking, 1993; Pakistan Forest Institute, 1997).

D. sissoo
has been much grown in India and Pakistan in combination with agricultural crops, along field boundaries, around fruit orchards, as windbreaks and shelterbelts, and as scattered trees on community and fallow lands. It has been grown under both temporary/taungya and permanent cultivation. Every year before the onset of or during winter, farmers carry out pollarding, lopping, individual branch pruning, trimming or cutting of trees to promote coppicing as well as for fuelwood and fodder (Von Carlowitz, 1991). Many crops, including wheat, sugarcane, maize, cotton and tobacco, can be grown with D. sissoo, although D. sissoo trees can also negatively affect crop production, and to eliminate adverse effects, lateral roots can be cut by making trenches between the crops and trees (Luna, 1996).

It is grown mainly as a high value timber, but also for fuelwood. Secondary products include foliage as a fodder, traditional medicines, and a lubricant oil from the heartwood. For a detailed description of resource quality and characteristics, see CABI (2005).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage


  • Agroforestry
  • Amenity
  • Ornamental
  • Shade and shelter
  • Windbreak


  • Charcoal
  • Fuelwood


  • Ornamental

Human food and beverage

  • Honey/honey flora


  • Essential oils
  • Wood/timber

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Wood Products

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  • Cases



  • Short-fibre pulp

Sawn or hewn building timbers

  • Carpentry/joinery (exterior/interior)
  • Fences
  • Flooring
  • For light construction
  • Wall panelling

Wood extractives (including oil)

Wood-based materials

  • Laminated wood
  • Plywood


  • Industrial and domestic woodware
  • Musical instruments
  • Tool handles
  • Toys
  • Turnery
  • Wood carvings

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Cultural control and sanitary measures
D. sissoo cannot withstand fire. Even light fire kills the foliage and severe fires may kill trees outright, thus fire could be considered as a suitable means of control. Foliage is also highly palatable, and seedlings and young trees also sensitive to browsing damage by domestic livestock and free-ranging herbivores, making grazing another possible means of control.

Physical/mechanical control

There are no records of specific mechanical control methods, though it is assumed that cutting alone will be ineffective due to the vigorous coppicing and ability to reproduce from severed roots via suckering.
Biological control
There are no records of attempts at selecting potential biocontrol agents having been made. However, noting the large number of specific pests from the native range, it may appear that they are many potentially suitable candidates should such an evaluation commence.
Chemical control

Picloram as a cut stump, basal bark or stem injection has been used in Australia (PIER, 2007), and basal bark treatments have also been used in Florida, USA (Langeland and Stocker, 2001).


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Rehman S; Hussain A, 1986. Growth and heritability estimates among six-year-old three geographical sources of shisham (Dalbergia sissoo Roxb.) in Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Forestry, 36(2):67-72; 7 ref.

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Distribution References

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Links to Websites

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.


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10/01/2008 Updated by:

Nick Pasiecznik, Consultant, France

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