Terminalia catappa L., Syst. Nat. ed. 12, 2 (1767)

Latinized version of local Malay name 'katapang'.

Badamia commersonii Gaertn.
Buceras catappa (L.) Hitchc.
Catappa domestica Rumph.
Juglans catappa (L.) Lour.
Myrobalanus catappa Kuntze
Myrobalanus terminalia Poir.
Terminalia badamia sensu Tul.
Terminalia badamia DC.
Terminalia catappa var. chlorocarpa Hassk.
Terminalia catappa var. macrocarpa Hassk.
Terminalia catappa var. rhodocarpa Hassk.
Terminalia catappa var. subcordata (Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.) DC.
Terminalia intermedia Bertero ex Spreng.
Terminalia latifolia Blanco
Terminalia mauritiana (non Lamk.) Blanco
Terminalia moluccana Lamk.
Terminalia myrobalana Roth
Terminalia ovatifolia Noronha
Terminalia paraensis Mart.
Terminalia procera Roxb.
Terminalia rubrigemmis Tul.
Terminalia subcordata Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.

Mid-canopy tree up to 35 m tall and 40 cm dbh. Twigs densely covered with leaf scars. Leaves alternate, simple, penni-veined, crowded at twig tips. Flowers ca. 4 mm in diameter, white to yellow, placed in spikes. Fruits ca. 55 mm long, yellow-reddish, fleshy drupe.

Deciduous tree, 10-35 m. Wood brown or reddish, rather heavy and close-grained. Young branchlets thickened, densely sericeous-tomentose or pubescent fairly quickly glabrescent. Leaves chartaceous or papyraceous, spirally arranged and crowded at the ends of the branches, spreading, usually shiny and glabrous but occasionally appressed-pubescent or tomentose especially on the lower surface, minutely verruculose above and below, typically obovate sometimes elliptic-obovate or even elliptic, rounded or shortly acuminate at the apex and somewhat narrowed below the middle to a subcordate base usually with 2 glands, 8-25(-38) by 5-14(-19) cm, varying considerably in size and shape (see notes); usually with c. 6-9 pairs of rather widely spaced nerves; domatia often present, sometimes hairy; petiole thick, usually sericeous-pubescent, 5-15(-20) mm. Seed-leaves transversely elliptic or kidney-shaped. Flowers white or whitish, sessile in axillary spikes 8-16 cm long, in which the majority of the flowers are usually male, a few bisexual flowers only being present towards the base; rhachis usually appressed pubescent, sometimes glabrous. Bracts c. 1 mm long, early caducous. Lower receptacle (ovary) sericeous or glabrous, usually 1-4 mm long, occasionally up to 7 mm long; upper receptacle usually nearly glabrous, shallow-cupuliform, 1.5 by 3 mm. Calyx lobes ovate-triangular, 1-1.5 mm long. Filaments glabrous, 2 mm; anthers 0.5 mm long. Disk barbate. Style glabrous, 2 mm. Fruit a usually glabrous, reddish, yellowish or greenish drupe, ovoid or ellipsoid, more or less laterally compressed or scarcely compressed, circumalate with a stiff rigid wing c. 2 mm broad or wing obsolete and scarcely conspicuous, very variable in size, 3.5-7 by 2-5.5 cm, cultivated races often having conspicuously larger fruits than the wild plants. [from Flora Malesiana]

Fruits vary greatly in shape, size and colour. The quality of the fruits differs considerably, the flesh being edible and sweet to bitter. The leaves are also variable in shape. Apparently there has been some selection, especially towards large-fruited, good tasting cultivars, although no registered cultivar names are known.

Indian almond occurs naturally on sandy or rocky beaches. It is tolerant of saline soils and not averse to ocean spray; it is very wind-resistant and it prefers full sun or medium shade. It survives only in tropical and near-tropical regions with a more or less humid climate. In its natural habitat the annual precipitation is about 3000 mm. Indian almond grows well on all soils providing there is good drainage. It is frequently cultivated up to 800 m altitude. Dispersed both by sea and animals (eaten by flying foxes). The tree sheds its leaves all at once, quite suddenly, usually twice a year (January or February and July or August). Unlike most tropical trees, the leaves turn first yellow, then vivid red before falling giving a well-marked 'autumn colour'.

Indian almond is a multipurpose tree. The bark and leaves and sometimes roots and green fruits are locally used for tanning leather and provide a black dye, used for dyeing cottons and rattan and as ink. The timber is of good quality and is used for house and boat building. It is susceptible to termites. The seed is edible and considered delicious, and contains a pale odourless oil, similar to almond oil. The oil is employed medicinally as a substitute for true almond oil to relieve abdominal inflammations, and, cooked with the leaves, in treating leprosy, scabies and other skin diseases. The flesh of the fruit is also edible, but is often fibrous and not tasty in spite of the pleasant smell. The tree is often planted in avenues and gardens as a shade tree. It is very well suited for this purpose because of its pagoda-like habit, with long, horizontal branches and large leaves. The leaves have a sudorific action and are applied to rheumatic joints. The tannin from bark and leaves is used as an astringent in dysentery and thrush. It is also regarded as diuretic and cardiotonic and is applied externally on skin eruptions. In the Philippines a decoction of the leaves is employed as a vermifuge.

Tropical Asia, northern Australia and Polynesia. Indian almond is native to South-East Asia, where it is common throughout the area, but apparently rare in Sumatra and in Borneo. Indian almond is commonly planted in northern Australia, Polynesia, as well as in Pakistan, India, East and West Africa, Madagascar and the lowlands of South and Central America.

Local names
Borneo: Ketapong, Taliasmi.
Cambodia: cham'bak barang'.
English: Indian or Singapore Almond.
Laos: huu kwaang, somz moox dong.
Lesser Sunda Isl.: ketapas (Timor), klihi (Pantar), lisa (Roti), wewa (Tenimber).
Malay: Ketapang.
Moluccas: sadina, sarisa (W. Ceram), sertalo (S. Ceram), kajane, sarisalo (Saparua), serisa (Sepa), sarasa (Haruku), sirisal (Nusa-laut), lisa (Buru), tasi (Sula), klis (Weda), gniisa (Ternate, Tidore, Galela), tiliho (Tobelo), tiliso (Loda) wew. (Key).
New Guinea: kalis, kris, ruge.
Peninsular Malaysia: Lingtak.
Philippines: talisai (standard), almendras, almendro (Span.), hanilak, dalasa, kalisai, hitam (Pamp.), dalinsi (Bik.), dalisai (Ibn.), logo, lugo (Ilk.), savidug (Iv.), salaisai (Ig.), salisai (Sbl.), taisai (Sulu), lalisi. (Yak.), yalisai. (Tag.).
Portuguese: Amendoeira da India.
Sulawesi: sabrise, aarisei, talisei, dumpajang, litmpoyang, atapang.
Sumatra: beowa, kilaula, gentapang, katapang, lapahang, katapieng, katafa.
Thailand: khon (Narathiwat), dat mue (Trang), taa-pang (Phitsanulok, Satun).
Vietnam: bang bien, bang nu'o'c.