Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Terminalia catappa L.

Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flowers. © Barry Jago
Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Fruit, three views, cross section and seed. © W. T. Cooper
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Linnaeus, C. von (1767) Mantissa Plantarum 1: 128. Type: holo: LINN 1222.1.

Common name

Indian Almond; Tropical Almond; Myrobalan; Country Almond; Almendro; Sea Almond


A tree with whorled branches like a pine tree (Pinus spp.). Deciduous; leafless for a period in September or October.


Leaf blade rather large, about 16-25 x 10-15 cm, petiole relatively short. Two flat nectar producing glands visible on the underside of the leaf blade at the very base, one on each side of the midrib. Terminal buds and young shoots densely clothed in brown hairs. Old leaves turn red prior to falling.


Inflorescence shorter than the leaves, bracts acuminate, less than 1 mm long, caducous. Perianth tube glabrous or with a few scattered hairs outside, lobes deltoid, about 1.5 x 1.5 mm, glabrous outside. Staminal filaments glabrous, about 3 mm long. Disk villous. Style glabrous.


Mature fruits glabrous, ellipsoid, laterally compressed, about 50-80 x 25-50 x 30-35 mm, commonly angled, rarely beaked. Seed about 27 x 10 mm, cotyledons convolute.


Cotyledons much wider than long, about 30-40 x 60-80 mm, base rounded, apex +/- truncate, hairy on the upper surface towards the base, distinctly 3-veined. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves obovate, apex acuminate, base cuneate, hairy on the upper surface; oil dots very small, visible only with a lens; petiole, stem and terminal bud densely clothed in long reddish brown hairs. Seed germination time 33 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in NT, CYP, NEQ and CEQ close to sea level. Grows in beach forest on sand dunes and also on rocky headlands. Also occurs in SE Asia, Malesia and the Pacific islands. Widely cultivated throughout the tropics.

Natural History & Notes

Food plant for the larval stages of the Brown Awl Butterfly. Common & Waterhouse (1981).

This species has been used medicinally in India, the Philippines, Indonesia and New Caledonia. The leaves are regarded as a contraceptive. Cribb (1981).

RFK Code
Copyright © CSIRO 2020, all rights reserved.