White damor (Vateria indica)

Also known as: Indian copal tree, Piney varnish tree, White dhamar
GenusVateria (1)
SizeAverage height: 40 m (2)

Classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1).

Reaching a maximum height of around 60 metres, Vateria indica is a large, evergreen tree, with smooth greyish bark and fragrant white flowers borne in branched clusters (2) (3). The leathery, elliptical leaves are between 4.5 to 10 centimetres long, and have an alternate arrangement. The pale brown, oblong fruits of this species measure around six centimetres long and three centimetres wide, and contain a single seed (2).

Vateria indica is found in south-west India, in the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Within these states this species is found only in the Western Ghats mountain range (1) (2).

Vateria indica is a component of the wet, evergreen forest of the south-western Western Ghats, a region of incredible biodiversity (1) (4). It can be found from lowland forests to elevations of up to 1,200 metres (2).

A slow-growing species, Vateria indica eventually reaches the height of the forest canopy or beyond (1) (2). The fragrant flowers of this species are produced from March to May (3), and are pollinated by insects (5). Vateria indica produces a fragrant, resin from channels in the trunk, as well as oil from the seed kernels, both of which have a variety of uses including soap and candle manufacture and medicine (6). Recent studies indicate that extracts of the stem bark of this species may also have anti-tumour properties (7).

Vateria indica has been severely affected by overexploitation and habitat loss, and today, few healthy populations remain (1). In addition to the large-scale timber-harvesting operations that began in the 19th century, the Western Ghats have also been impacted by clearance for agriculture and plantations. The forests are now mostly restricted to steep areas that are difficult to access (8).

Some populations of Vateria indica are found in forest reserves, and small-scale replantation efforts are being made in some degraded rainforests and barren areas (1) (6). Although the status of this species is critical, it apparently shows good regeneration where conditions permit, hence adequate protection of areas from clearance and degradation could allow it to make a recovery (1).

To learn more about conservation in the Western Ghats visit:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

  1. IUCN Red List (December, 2009)