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Tropical Almond

(Terminalia catappa)

Other Names: Bengal almond, Singapore almond, Indian almond, Wild almond, Badam, Ebelebo, Zanmande

Tropical almond is a large spreading tree that can grow to 20 – 40 m tall. Its branches are distinctively arranged in tiers. The leaves are large, obovate, 15–25 cm long and 10–14 cm wide, glossy dark green and leathery turning yellow and then red as they age. The flowers are small, have 5 lobes, about 5 mm diameter, white to cream colour and produced on axillary spikes about 10 – 20 cm long. The fruit is an ovoid drupe 5–7 cm long, green which turns yellow and finally red or dark purple when fully ripe. The kernel is very light and corky and contains 2 light brown seeds that look and taste like almonds.

The flesh of the ripe fruit is eaten out of hand and the encased seed which tastes and looks like an almond is used as an alternative to almond. The fruit can also be used to make wine. The tree is also grown for its timber.

The leaves contain several flavonoids, several tannins, saponines and phytosterols. Due to this chemical richness, the leaves and the bark are used in different traditional medicines for various purposes including diaphoretic, anti­indigestion and anti­dysentry.

As the name suggests it prefers tropical climates with full sun and is fairly draught tolerant.

It prefers light to medium sandy or sandy loam soils that is free draining. Acid to neutral pH. It can tolerate shallow and slightly saline soil.

Usually from seed. It is fast growing and requires little care. Seeds lose viability with age so should be sown by 4 to 6 weeks after extracting from the mature fruit.

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