Our planet supports various life forms in addition to human beings. Its favorable climate conditions and atmosphere are chiefly responsible for its life-bearing characteristics. In the entire solar system, ours is the only planet that can bear life on it. It isn’t only the human beings that live on the planet.
Mother Nature is the home to many exotic species of plants and animals. The optimal combination of heat, light, and water puts Earth on the belt where life forms can exist, flourish, and thrive. There are species that we know, and about 86% of the total still remains undiscovered.
It is high time we understand this and make our efforts to preserve various species of plant and animal kingdom.
Trees, for example, are highly essential for our survival. Right from the shade, wood, paper, food items all come from the trees.
With depleting forest reserves, the planet has got a huge concern awaiting bad drastic consequences. Various species of the plant kingdom are highly important for us and thus in-depth studies are being carried out to understand them better.
What is Kratom (Mitragyna Speciosa)?
We haven’t even begun to understand the miracles and benefits of the known species. One such plant species is that has intrigued scientists with its medical qualities is Mitragyna Speciosa. Its first formal recognition came from the Dutch scientist Pieter Korthals. It was named Mitragyna by Pieter because upon his examination of the first species the stigma resembled the shape of a meter.
Commonly known as Kratom or Ketum, this tree is indigenous to the Southeast Asian region. It is one of the most characteristic stresses of the region and was grown on a large scale basis in the forests there. The locals have used this species because of its benefits for centuries.
Kratom belongs to the coffee family of trees, the scientific name being Rubiaceae. It is a popular topic of discussion amongst scientists who are trying to understand it better and make the best use of it.
Mitragyna speciosa is indeed native to Thailand and grows naturally in various places in the country. In spite of this, the Kratom tree has been forbidden by the law of the country for over 70 years now.
It must take you by surprise that a country has banned its own tree and this for over 7 decades now! Well, the reason for the ban was quite straight forward. The tree and the benefits it was offering were significantly impacting the optimum distribution.
The Thai government collects tax revenues from the opium distribution which was being hurt deeply by Kratom as it proved to be causing a reduction to the Thai government’s revenues in the form of tax.
Let’s take a look at some of the key features of Kratom tree.
Scientific Name: Mitragyna Speciosa
When new species are discovered, it is classified into the kingdom of living things based on its characteristics. Since Kratom is a tree, it is classified in the kingdom Plantae. The whole nomenclature is described as:
Family: Rubiaceae (Coffee Family)
Characteristics of Kratom Tree
Korth is the evergreen tree of the Rubiaceae family. The Kratom tree is of versatile nature and this is evident in the fact that it can be either a deciduous tree of an evergreen tree and this greatly depends upon the climate it is being grown. Most of them are native to tropical regions.
There are a few characteristics that are shared by all the plants and shrubs in this family. These features are essential in knowing and identifying the tree from other members of the family.
Type: Evergreen tree
As the name indicates, the evergreen tree is green all-round the year. That means as the leaves fall off, they are replaced by new leaves, and the process goes on all year. Unlike the deciduous variety, they do not shed the leaves seasonally.
Although the drastic changes in the climate may cause them to lose leaves, the array belongs to evergreen classification.
Korth has the opposite leaf arrangement. It means that leaves on the same stem arise opposite to each other at the same level.
Leaf size and length
The leaf of a fully mature plant is significantly broad and large in size. The average length is 6 inches, and the width is 4 inches. In appearance, it is dark green in color and very glossy. The leaf has an ovate shape with a broad egg-like base and a thin top.
The midvein in the leaf can vary in colors; they can be red, green, white to brown. This also forms the basis of the differentiating the variants of kratom powder—leaf veins branch off the central vein in the pairs of fifteen or seventeen.
The Kratom tree can get quite tall in height and reach limits of over 9 meters too and about 3.5 meters on the lower side. Its width too spans about 4 to 5 meters thus making it a normal tree as far as size is concerned.
Some species of Kratom have been proven to grow quite tall and reach as much as 20 meters in height. Although, it is quite rare and usually the tree height spans between 4 to 9 meters.
Vegetative and Floral Characters
Korth possesses a tap-root branching system, in which the primary roots grows vertically down and branches off in the surrounding regions.
The stem grows erect, and with maturation, the truck is woody with smooth and grey outer bark. Flower on this plant grows in the cluster of three at the end of the branches.
Regions of Growth of Kratom Tree
Depending on the sun exposure and the underlying weather condition whole Earth is divided into the climatic areas. Each of these areas is specialized by the vegetation and biodiversity. Kratom plant belongs to the equatorial and tropics of Asia.
Due to growing popularity, the plant is also being produced in other parts of the world as an in-house hobby. Nothing on the mass scale has been done to cultivate.
The area that is right on the top of the equator and its closed surrounding is termed as equatorial.
Areas and countries
Tropics, where this plant grows, are Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia.
When we move further away from the equator, the tropical regions start. This is the area located between the tropic of Cancer and the equator in the Northern Hemisphere and between the Tropic of Capricorn and the equator on the Southern Hemisphere.
Climate Needs and Requirements
Ketum is the species that grows Asian region that in engulfed by the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn. These regions predominantly have a hot and humid climate, which is ideal for the growth of Kratom Tree.
As a tropical tree Kratum does not do well outside the tropical regions which are much cooler and get very little rainfall. These conditions outside the tropics can only be produced within the controlled environment; which has high levels of humidity, ample water, and warm air.
When it comes to rainfall, the tropical regions tend to get a lot of it all around the year. These heavy rainfalls are perfect for the propagation of this species. The climatic region is directly under the sun, which causes the air to warm up and go up.
At the same time, the water from the dense vegetation evaporates. Warm air is replaced by colder air which also brings clouds loaded with the vapors. Consequently, the downpour occurs in the latter part of the day. All of this also maintains the humid condition in the region.
Warm seas and oceans surround the equatorial region and tropics in Asia. This the general water cycle and the surrounding seas contribute to the humidity in this region. The process repeats all year long because of the extensive sun exposure.
The average range of moisture in the area is 77 % to 88 %. In general, anything above 70% is classified as Tropic Humid. Speciosa blooms in such weather conditions.
Temperature is also one of the factors that are necessary for Mitragyna to flourish at the standard rate. Ketum can handle the temperature as low as 12oc. If the temperature goes down, the young sapling can die, and even a mature plant can go into shock.
In tropics, the temperature range is 20-30oc, and it does not drop below 12. This range, in combination with a high level of humidity, is ideal for the Ketum to thrive.
The soil in tropical rains undergoes excessive leeching and stripping of the nutrients. Despite that, the forest cycle and the surrounding volcanic region compensate for the loss, and naturally growing vegetation gets the support it needs.
Moreover, these soils are warm and very rich in moisture. Thus, this is what Ketum needs for proper growth.
How can a change in climate impact the growth of Kratom tree?
For the proper growth, the optimal maturity of the plant, the climate, and all its characteristics are crucial. Any fluctuation in the temperature or humidity can take a toll on the plant and result in death. Thus, the climatic region can affect the growth of a great deal.
Korth is one of those notorious trees that are significantly impacted by even minor changes. The change in habitat is generally not well tolerated by this species. Ketum is the tree of an evergreen variety. In the tropical region, the leaves don’t fall annually, and the normal evergreen cycle of leaf replacement is maintained.
If the habitat is changed to a dry and colder region, the Kratom tree can lose all of its leave mimicking the deciduous variety. In the case of cold water and rain, the growth is jeopardized the typical development is disrupted. Temperature can also have the same effect if we move farther away from the equator.
Growth Characteristics of Kratom Tree
In its, habitat Speciosa can grow as tall as 100 feet. The average range for the height is 13-52 feet. The climatic condition can affect the growth patterns, and they also vary with the soil conditions.
The trunk of the mature plant can be as wide as 3 feet. The overall branching can vary with the surrounding space the tree is allowed to grow. In thick vegetation and partnership with other plants, it forms canopy covers in the forests.
Indigenously the tree grows naturally in all the warms regions for Indonesia and Malaysia and neighboring countries. Most of the powdered strains are harvest from the years-old trees. New sapling plantation is not very common.
Older trees are responsible for providing high-quality powder which is rich in alkaloids and several other beneficial chemicals. To ensure a clean cut harvest without disturbing the neighboring biodiversity, only local farmers carry out the harvest following the old traditional process.
With the increasing demand and popularity, Kratum production is required to be done on a mass level. To meet the needs, the suppliers are getting involved in the farming of Korth with the local farmers.
Unlike the traditional process of cultivation, Korth cultivation is a decentralized process. This means the broad area is not cleared off of other trees for the Korth plantation.
Instead, the surrounding biodiversity remains intact, and Korth is planted in its natural habitat and is grown organically. Leaves are all handpicked and mechanically process with the use of heavy industry that could disturb other inhabitants of the land.
In short, the Kortum tree is the carrier of huge medicinal and recreational potential. With increasing awareness, its users and industry will expand.
The plant is also being studied for its medicals properties. With proper knowledge about its growth requirement, it will be possible to grow the plant in non-inhabiting countries on a mass scale.