Dalbergia sissoo (Indian Rosewood)

Scientific name

Dalbergia sissoo Roxb. ex DC.


Amerimnon sissoo (Roxb.) Kuntze

Common names

Indian rosewood, East Indian rosewood, dalbergia, Himalaya raintree, Indian dalbergia, penny leaf tree, penny-leaf tree, shisham, sisso, sissoo


Fabaceae (Leguminosae): sub-family Faboideae


Native to the Indian Sub-continent, Myanmar and possibly also neighbouring countries.

Naturalised distribution (global)

Locations within which Dalbergia sissoo is naturalised include Africa, Australia and southern USA.

Introduced, naturalised or invasive in East Africa

Dalbergia sissoo is invasive in parts of Kenya and Tanzania (Global Invasive Species Database). In East Africa D. sissoo has been cultivated in Muheza (Amani and Longuza), and at Korogwe (Tanzania). The editors are not aware of references to this species in the wild in Uganda.


Dalbergia sissoo tolerates a variety of soils, and has been recorded in forest gaps and edges.


Dalbergia sissoo is a medium to large tree of about 10 to 15 m metres high in dry areas, and up to 30 m in wet areas. It is deciduous, with a light crown and an often crooked trunk.

Leaves are compound, with about five alternate leaflets. Leafstalk (petiole) measures about 15 cm long, each leaflet widest at the base, to 6 cm long with a fine pointed tip.

Flowers are pink-white and shaped like the 'pea flower'. Flowers occur in dense clusters on short (c 5mm) stalks. The dry fruit is a pale brown pod, flat, thin and papery, about 7 cm. Seed are visible from within

Reproduction and dispersal

Dalbergia sissoo reproduces through seed and vegetatively through suckers arising from the root system. Regeneration is rare under shade. Seed dispersal is through wind or water.

Economic and other uses

Dalbergia sissoo is used as firewood, timber, poles, posts, tool handles, fodder, erosion control and as a windbreak. Oil is extracted from the seed and tannin from the bark.

Environmental and other impacts

Dalbergia sissoo suckers prolifically and has the potential to form dense thickets that replace native vegetation. It can also reduce the productivity of grazing areas and deny access to waterways and coastal areas. Fresh leaves of D. sissoo are harmful to livestock and may cause digestive disorders. D. sissoo has been included in the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD 2007).


The precise management measures adopted for any plant invasion will depend upon factors such as the terrain, the cost and availability of labour, the severity of the infestation and the presence of other invasive species. Some components of an integrated management approach are introduced below.

The best form of invasive species management is prevention. If prevention is no longer possible, it is best to treat the weed infestations when they are small to prevent them from establishing (early detection and rapid response). Controlling the weed before it seeds will reduce future problems. Control is generally best applied to the least infested areas before dense infestations are tackled. Consistent follow-up work is required for sustainable management.

Herbicide applications to the base of the trunk of Dalbergia sissoo is recommended for control in Florida Chemical applications can be made on cut stumps, as a basal bark treatment (herbicide painted onto the bark) or as a stem injection. When using any herbicide always read the label first and follow all instructions and safety requirements. If in doubt consult an expert.

The editors could find no information on biological control agents for this species.


Not listed as a noxious weed by the state or governments in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.


Bekele-Tesemma, A. (2007). Useful trees of Ethiopia. identification, propagation and Management in 17 Agrecological zones. Nairobi, Relma in ICRAF projects.

GISD (2007). Global Invasive Species Database. Data sheet for Dalbergia sissoo (tree). www.issg.org/database/. Accessed March 2011.

Mbuya, L. P. , Masanga, H. P., Bernie, A. and Tegnas B. (1994). (eds). Useful Trees and Shrubs for Tanzania. Identification, propagation and management for agricultural and pastoral communities. Regional Soil conservation Unit, Nairobi, Kenya.


Agnes Lusweti, National Museums of Kenya; Emily Wabuyele, National Museums of Kenya, Paul Ssegawa, Makerere University; John Mauremootoo, BioNET-INTERNATIONAL Secretariat - UK.


This fact sheet is adapted from The Environmental Weeds of Australia by Sheldon Navie and Steve Adkins, Centre for Biological Information Technology, University of Queensland. We recognise the support from the National Museums of Kenya, Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) - Tanzania and Makerere University, Uganda. This activity was undertaken as part of the BioNET-EAFRINET UVIMA Project (Taxonomy for Development in East Africa).


BioNET-EAFRINET Regional Coordinator: [email protected]