Terminalia catappa (Tropical almond)
Terminalia catappa (Combretaceae) is a fast growing deciduous tree which reaches up to 15 meters in height. It is commonly known as Tropical almond, Indian almond and beach almond. The tree has pagoda-like canopy habit which becomes unnoticeable when the tree matures due to the drooping of large branches. This tree occurs in the range of Africa, East Asia, China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia etc. It is widely cultivated in the tropics for ornamental purposes.
The Terminalia catappa tree shed all its leaves twice a year usually in the month of January or February and July or August. Their leaves turns yellow first, then vivid red before falling, due to the presence of pigments such as lutein, violaxanthin and zeaxanthin. The flowers have sweet delicate fragrance. The fruits are red or blackish green, tender and a thin layer of subacid juicy flesh. Their fruits are also sweetish and fibrous when young, therefore, like by children. Their leaves and fruits contains tannins and are astringent. Terminalia catappa is a multi-purpose tree which is plant to provide shade, food and medicines.
Terminalia catappa Seeds
Terminalia catappa seeds are edible both in raw and cooked-form. These are roasted to enhance their flavor and chop to cookies, desserts, sweets and soups. These seeds are 3-4 cm long and 3-5 mm thick and enclose in a thick shell which is quite difficult to break. A single tree can yield around 5 kg of kernels per year. However, there is some selection of cultivars with larger seeds. They are rich in zinc. They comprises the property of leather preparation and use as the base for inks.
Terminalia catappa Seeds Oil
Each seed yields 38-54% oil, which is colourless, bland tasting and use in cooking. This oil is similar to almond oil, but it is less susceptible to become rancid. It is also use for making soaps and cosmetics.
How to Germinate Terminalia catappa
The seeds remain viable for a long time and germinates readily. Firstly, the seeds are pre-soak for 24 hours in cold water. About 70% of seeds has ability to germinate in 20 days. Seeds germinates within 3-8 weeks and should be grown in a fertile, well-drain, sandy loam soil with good levels of organic matter. Seedling should be transplant into container as soon as possible. As the plant grow rapidly and require large container.
How to take care of Terminalia catappa Seedlings
- Shade Tree: Terminalia catappa is mostly plant in avenues as a shade tree because of its regular shape.
- Habitat: This specie likes to grow in the areas near rivers, coastal plains and sandy or rocky beaches.
- Soil: It likes loamy sands, well-drained and moderately fertile soil. It can also tolerates saline soil.
- Soil pH: It prefers a pH in the range of 5-7 however, it can also tolerate 4-8.
- Exposure: It prefers sunny position.
- Elevation: It grows at elevations below 800 meters.
- Temperature: It prefers annual temperature within the range of 21-32˚C but it can also tolerate 10-36˚C.
- Rainfall: It required mean annual rainfall in the range of 1500-3400 mm but it can also tolerate from 700-4200 mm.
- Fire exposure: It is resistant to low to medium fire intensities. Therefore, can regrow after burning.
- Water-logging: The plant don not prefer water-logged conditions.
Medicinal value of Terminalia catappa
- Leaves: The red leaves acts as vermifuge. The sap from young leaves use to treat leprosy. Their juice is use to cure cough, jaundice and ingestion. They also cure colic and headaches.
- Bark and Roots: The bark and roots help to treat bilious fever, thrush, diarrhoea and abscesses. The fluid from the bark of plant is use as tonic and to treat diabetes. Its infusion is use as emetic for infants and believes to treat stomach ache. It also treat pimples and fungal diseases of skin.
- Seeds: The seeds are use as mild laxative.