Terminalia catappa

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Terminalia catappa
Terminalia catappa (fruit).jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Myrtales
Family: Combretaceae
Genus: Terminalia
Species: T. catappa
Binomial name
Terminalia catappa

Terminalia catappa is a large tropical tree in the leadwood tree family, Combretaceae, that grows mainly in the tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and Australia.[2] It is known by the common names Bengal almond, country almond,[3] false kamani,[4] Indian almond,[3] Malabar almond,[3] sea almond,[3] and tropical almond.[3]

Vernacular names

It is known as Laal Badam ("Red almond") in Pakistan, miich (Palauan), Singapore almond, Louze (Bahraini), Bedan بيدان (Yemeni), ketapang (Malay and Indonesian), ebelebo (Nigerian), Malabar almond, Indian almond, tropical almond, sea almond, beach almond, Talisay (Filipino), Kottamba (Sinhalese), abrofo nkatie (Ghana), tavola (Fiji), castanhola (northeastern Brazil), zanmande (creole)[which?], जंगली बादाम - Jaṅgalī bādāma (Hindi and Marathi), Tallitenga (തല്ലി തേങ്ങ) (Malayalam), Badam (Telugu), kotōl (Marshallese: [kʷo͡ɤdˠʌ͡ɛlʲ]),[5] khungu (Swahili), Daem Chat (khmer), talis (Tok Pisin), natavoa (Bislama),[6] midhili (Maldives), mandlovník mořský or vrcholák pravý (Czech), hammans (Belize), 吉打邦 (Chinese)[citation needed], bodamnian (Seychellois creol).


Leaves before falling in Kolkata, West Bengal, India

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.

T. catappa tree in Kolkata, West Bengal, India

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.

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 has been extensively used in Brazilian urban landscaping, since being a rare case tropical deciduous, their fallen leaves would give an "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 fruits at various stages of ripeness, one cut open to reveal the edible kernel within the hard endocarp and another partially opened to reveal the fleshy mesocarp surrounding the fibrous inner layers
Stripped nuts and a kernel (Desi badam) that is edible

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, 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 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 is 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.[7]

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.[8] It is also believed to help prevent fungus forming on the eggs of the fish.[citation needed]



  1. "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Pankaj Oudhia, Robert E. Paull. West Indian Almond Terminalia catappa L. Combretaceae p273-276.Encyclopedia of Fruit and Nuts - 2008, J. Janick and R. E. Paull -editors, CABI, Wallingford, United Kingdom
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "USDA GRIN Taxonomy".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. A.K. Kepler, Trees of Hawaii
  5. Marshallese-English Dictionary
  6. Trees: A Teachers' book - Vanuatu Ministry of Education, 1997
  7. 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
  8. C. Chitmanat, K. Tongdonmuan, P. Khanom, P. Pachontis, and W. Nunsong (2005). "Antiparasitic, antibacterial, and antifungal activities derived from a Terminalia catappa solution against some Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) pathogens". Acta Horticulturae. pp. 179–182.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links