Indian Almond (Terminalia catappa)

Botanical Name :Terminalia catappa
Family: Combretaceae
Genus: Terminalia
Species: T. catappa
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Myrtales

Common Names:Desi Badam, Bengal almond, Singapore almond , Ebelebo, Malabar almond, Indian almond, Tropical almond, Sea almond, Beach Almond, Talisay tree, Umbrella tree, Abrofo Nkatie (Akan),

Habitat :The tree has been spread widely by humans and 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.

Description:
Terminalia catappa is a large tropical tree in the Leadwood tree family, Combretaceae.It grows to 35 metres (115 ft) tall, with an upright, symmetrical crown and horizontal branches. The Terminalia catappa has corky, light fruit that is dispersed by water. The nut 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 centimetres (5.9–9.8 in) long and 10–14 centimetres (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.

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The flowers are monoecious, with distinct male and female flowers on the same tree. Both are 1 centimetre (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 centimetres (2.0–2.8 in) long and 3–5.5 centimetres (1.2–2.2 in) broad, green at first, then yellow and finally red when ripe, containing a single seed

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Cultivation:Terminalia catappa  is grown in tropical countries all over the world.

Edible Uses:
The fruit is edible, tasting slightly acidic.

Chemical Constituents:
The leaves contain several flavonoids (like kaempferol or quercetin), several tannins (such as punicalin, punicalagin or tercatin), saponines and phytosterols. Due to this chemical richness, the leaves (and also the bark) are used in different traditional medicines for various purposes. For instances, in Taiwan fallen leaves are used as a herb to treat liver diseases. In Suriname, a tea made from the leaves is prescribed against dysentery and diarrhea. It is also thought that the leaves contain agents for prevention of cancers (although they have no demonstrated anticarcinogenic properties) and antioxidant as well as anticlastogenic characteristics.

Medicinal Uses;
Extracts from the leaves and bark of the plant have proven anticarcinogenic, anti-HIV and hepatoprotective properties (liver regenerating effects), including anti-diabetic effects.  The leaves and bark have been used traditionally in the South Pacific, for fungal related conditions.  It may be potentially beneficial for overall immune support, liver detoxification and antioxidant support.  The leaves contain agents for chemo-prevention of cancer and probably have anticarciogenic potential.  They also have a anticlastogenic effect (a process which causes breaks in chromosomes) due to their antioxidant properties. The kernel of Indian almond has shown aphrodisiac activity; it can probably be used in treatment of some forms of sexual inadequacies (premature ejaculation). Ethanol extract of the leaves shown potential in the treatment of sickle cell disorders. It appears as an anti-sickling agent for those that suffer from sickle cell.  It has been shown to be of benefit for microbial balancing.; as an aid to lowering high blood pressure and stress; as a treatment for some forms of liver disorders; as an aid in reducing the effect of several heart conditions .  In Asia it has long been known that the leaves of contain a toxic, secondary metabolite, which has antibacterial properties.

From other countries: the leaves, bark and fruits are used for dysentery in Southeast Asia; dressing for rheumatic joints in Indonesia and India; the fruits and bark are a remedy for coughs in Samoa) and  asthma in Mexico; the fruits treat leprosy and  headaches in India and motion sickness in Mexico; the leaves eliminate intestinal parasites in the Philippines and treat eye problems, rheumatism and wounds in Samoa while they’re used to  stop bleeding during teeth extraction in Mexico; fallen leaves are used to treat liver diseases in Taiwan, and young leaves for colic in South America; the juice of the leaves is used for scabies, skin diseases and leprosy in India and Pakistan; the bark is a remedy for throat and mouth problems, stomach upsets and diarrhea in Samoa and for fever and dysentery in Brazil.

Other Uses:
The wood is red, solid and has high water resistance; it has been utilized in Polynesia for making canoes. In Tamil, almond is known “Nattuvadumai”.

Keeping the leaves in an aquarium is said to lower the pH and heavy metal content of the water. It has been utilized in this way by Betta breeders in Thailand for many years. It’s also believed that it helps prevent fungus forming on the eggs of the fish.. Local hobbyists also use it for conditioning the betta’s water for breeding and hardening of the scales.
Terminalia catappa is widely grown in tropical regions of the world as an ornamental tree, grown for the deep shade its large leaves provide.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminalia_catappa

http://www.backyardnature.net/yucatan/almond-t.htm

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