Terminalia catappa

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Terminalia catappa
Terminalia catappa (fruit).jpg
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Myrtales
Family: Combretaceae
Genus: Terminalia
T. catappa
Binomial name
Terminalia catappa
Synonyms [2]
    • Badamia commersonii Gaertn.
    • Buceras catappa (L.) Hitchc.
    • Catappa domestica Rumph.
    • Juglans catappa (L.) Lour.
    • Myrobalanus catappa (L.) Kuntze
    • Myrobalanus terminalia Poir.
    • Terminalia badamia DC.
    • Terminalia intermedia Bertero ex Spreng.
    • Terminalia latifolia Blanco
    • Terminalia moluccana Lam.
    • Terminalia myrobalana Roth
    • Terminalia ovatifolia Noronha
    • Terminalia paraensis Mart.
    • Terminalia procera Roxb.
    • Terminalia rubrigemmis Tul.
    • Terminalia subcordata Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.

Terminalia catappa is a large tropical tree in the leadwood tree family, Combretaceae, native to Asia, Australia, the Pacific and Madagascar. [1] Common names in English include country almond, Indian almond, Malabar almond, sea almond, tropical almond, [3] beach almond [4] and false kamani. [5]



The tree grows to 35 m (115 ft) tall, with an upright, symmetrical crown and horizontal branches. Terminalia catappa has corky, light fruit that are dispersed by water. The seed within the fruit is edible when fully ripe, tasting almost like almond. As the tree gets older, its crown becomes more flattened to form a spreading, vase shape. Its branches are distinctively arranged in tiers. The leaves are large, 15–25 cm (5.9–9.8 in) long and 10–14 cm (3.9–5.5 in) broad, ovoid, glossy dark green, and leathery. They are dry-season deciduous; before falling, they turn pinkish-reddish or yellow-brown, due to pigments such as violaxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

The trees are monoecious, with distinct male and female flowers on the same tree. Both are 1 cm (0.39 in) in diameter, white to greenish, inconspicuous with no petals; they are produced on axillary or terminal spikes. The fruit is a drupe 5–7 cm (2.0–2.8 in) long and 3–5.5 cm (1.2–2.2 in) broad, green at first, then yellow and finally red when ripe, containing a single seed. Pollen grains measure about 30 microns.

The species epithet is based on its Malay name Ketapang. [6] [7]

Habitat and range

The tree has been spread widely by humans, so the native range is uncertain. It has long been naturalised in a broad belt extending from Africa to northern Australia and New Guinea through southeast Asia and Micronesia into the Indian subcontinent. More recently, the plant has been introduced to parts of the Americas. Until the mid-20th century, the tree had been used extensively in Brazilian urban landscaping, since being a rare case tropical deciduous, their fallen leaves would give a "European" flair to the street. This practice is currently abolished, and the "amendoeiras" are being replaced by native, evergreen trees.

Cultivation and uses

T. catappa is widely grown in tropical regions of the world as an ornamental tree, grown for the deep shade its large leaves provide. The fruit is edible, [8] tasting slightly acidic.

The wood is red and solid, and has high water resistance; it has been used in Polynesia for making canoes. In Tamil, almond is known as nattuvadumai.

The leaves contain several flavonoids (such as kaempferol or quercetin), several tannins (such as punicalin, punicalagin or tercatin), saponines and phytosterols. Due to this chemical richness, the leaves (and the bark) are used in different herbal medicines for various purposes. For instance in Taiwan, fallen leaves are used as an herb to treat liver diseases. In Suriname, an herbal tea made from the leaves has been prescribed against dysentery and diarrhea. The leaves may contain agents for prevention of cancers (although they have no demonstrated anticarcinogenic properties) and antioxidants, as well as anticlastogenic characteristics. Extracts of T. catappa have shown activity against Plasmodium falciparum chloroquine (CQ)-resistant (FcB1) and CQ-sensitive (HB3) strains. [9]

Keeping the leaves in an aquarium may lower the pH and heavy-metal content of the water.[ citation needed ] It has been used in this way by fish breeders for many years, and is active against some parasites and bacterial pathogens. [10] It is also believed to help prevent fungus forming on the eggs of the fish.[ citation needed ]

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  1. 1 2 Thomson, L.; Evans, B. (2019). "Terminalia catappa". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2019: e.T61989853A61989855. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-3.RLTS.T61989853A61989855.en . Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species".
  3. "Terminalia catappa L." Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  4. Henn JJ, McCoy MB, Vaughan CS (September 2014). "Beach almond (Terminalia catappa, Combretaceae) seed production and predation by scarlet macaws (Ara macao) and variegated squirrels (Sciurus variegatoides)". Revista de Biologia Tropical. 62 (3): 929–38. doi: 10.15517/rbt.v62i3.14060 . PMID   25412525.
  5. A.K. Kepler. Trees of Hawaii.
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  7. Hynnersley, C.W.S. (1913). Noctes orientales. Being a selection of essays read before the Straits Philosophical Society between years 1893 and 1910 (Criticism). Singapore. Kelly and Walsh. p. 183.
  8. Hargreaves, Dorothy; Hargreaves, Bob (1964). Tropical Trees of Hawaii . Kailua, Hawaii: Hargreaves. p.  31.
  9. Hnawia E, Hassani L, Deharo E, Maurel S, Waikedre J, Cabalion P, Bourdy G, Valentin A, Jullian V, Fogliani B. "Antiplasmodial activity of New Caledonia and Vanuatu traditional medicines". Pharm Biol. 2011 Apr; 49(4): 369-76.
  10. C. Chitmanat; K. Tongdonmuan; P. Khanom; P. Pachontis & W. Nunsong (2005). "Antiparasitic, antibacterial, and antifungal activities derived from a Terminalia catappa solution against some Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) pathogens". Acta Horticulturae. 678 (678): 179–182. doi:10.17660/ActaHortic.2005.678.25.