Characteristics of Nilgiri Elm (Celtis tetrarandra) in the Wild

Celtis tetrandra
Nilgiri elm (Celtis tetrandra) is a species of tree in the genus Celtis, family Cannabaceae. This tree is widely distributed in the Indian Subcontinent, southern China, Southeast Asia, and western Indonesia.

Nilgiri elm is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use as food and traditional medicine. The tree often grows in mixed forests, valleys, and slopes at elevations of 700-1,500 m asl.

Celtis tetrarandra can tolerate cold temperatures when grown in summer areas, it can tolerate low temperatures up to -10 °C. However, the Celtis species generally prefer hotter summers and more sun than is typically experienced in maritime areas of the temperate zone.

Nilgiri elms generally prefer bright sunlight, although they are quite shaded tolerant when young. Nilgiri elm can also grow in any moderately good soil but prefers well-drained fertile loam, dry gravel, and sandy soil.


Characteristics of Nilgiri Elm Leaf

Celtis tetrandra Leaf

The leaves are simple, alternate, ovate-lanceolate to rhombic, measuring 5-13 × 2.5-5.5 cm, with a 3-10 mm wrinkled petiole. Leaf-blade with an uneven base round or wedge-shaped, pointed tip, with a serrated edge at the top. From above, sparsely pubescent, from below with hairs along the main veins and stellate pubescence at the corners of the veins.


Characteristics of Nilgiri Elm Flower

Celtis tetrandra Flower

The flowers are small, about 1 cm in diameter, petals measuring 4 x 1.5 mm, and appear in the axils of the leaves at the shoots.


Characteristics of Nilgiri Elm Fruit

Celtis tetrandra Fruit

The fruit is green when young and turns yellow to orange-brown when ripe, round, with distinct spines at the apex, 7-8 mm in diameter, 12-16 mm in the stalk. The flesh is thin, starchy, sweet, edible. The seeds are about 5 mm large, round, and with a sharp apex.


Characteristics of Nilgiri Elm Tree

Celtis tetrandra Tree

The Nilgiri elm is a medium-sized deciduous tree up to 30 meters high. The bark is grayish-white, smooth, sometimes with transverse folds. The branches are thin, yellowish-brown, and pubescent.

The wood is very strong, flexible, and durable. Used by local people to make oars, tool handles, etc. The fiber-rich bark is used to make rope and paper, and the oil obtained from the seeds is used to make soap and lubricants.



Nilgiri elm is best cultivated by sowing the seeds immediately in fertile soil and a sunny position. The germination rate is quite high, the seeds will germinate within 28-42 days. Sprouts grow quickly with sufficient sunlight.


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