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Terminalia molinetii


Terminalia molinetii M. Gómez

Family Name: Combretaceae
Common Name: Spiny Black Olive, Dwarf Geometry Tree, Spiny Bucida, Ming Tree


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub, Tree (Small (6m-15m), Shrubby (1m-5m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Umbrella
Maximum Height 3 m to 7 m


Native Distribution Caribbean, USA (Florida)
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Coastal Forest, Grassland / Savannah/ Scrubland), Shoreline (Mangrove Forest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical

Description and Ethnobotany

Others - Plant Morphology Shrub or small tree, up to 7m height. Leaves small (0.6-2cm long x 0.5cm wide), glossy dark green above, lighter green below, young leaves reddish; leathery, produced in whorls at nodes, clustered at branch tips, semi-deciduous. Flowers tiny (0.5cm across), creamy white, in clusters. Fruits small clustered drupes (0.5cm), ovoid, angled, ripen from green to tan to brown in 2 months.Stiff spines found along stems and at base of leaves. Crown may be layered / tiered when plant is young, but becomes oval to round, denser and flattened out with age. Crown exhibits lacy silhouette due to horizontally-zigzag branching pattern.Slow-growing. Prefers frequent fertilization. Grown as bonsai (thereby known as Ming Tree in America), and suitable as specimen plants in containers.
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Herb or Spice)
Others: Bark mixed with bark of Rhizophora mangle to stop bleeding.

Landscaping Features

Landscape Uses Container Planting, Coastal, Suitable for Bonsai, Interiorscape/ Indoor Plant, Beachfront / Shoreline
Thematic Landscaping Rockery / Desert Garden, Formal Garden
Usage Hazard - Cons Spines/Thorns - Stem/Branch
Usage Hazard - Cons Remarks Stiff spines (1-3cm) found along stems & base of leaf whorls
Plant & Rootzone Preference or Tolerance Remarks Likes moist soils.

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun, [Remarks] (Drought-tolerant when established.)
Water Preference Moderate Water, Little Water, [Remarks] (Drought-tolerant when established.)
Plant Growth Rate Slow
Rootzone Tolerance Saline Soils / Salt Spray, Drought Tolerant
Maintenance Requirements Low
Pruning Prune to shape into bonsai.
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Drought / Semi-Deciduous
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Glossy / Shiny, Leathery, Thick
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Red
Foliar Modification Spine (axillary)
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Whorled
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Oval)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Obtuse, Rounded
Foliar Base Cuneate
Typical Foliar Area Nanophyll ( 0.25cm2 - 2.25 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Bark Colour(s) Rough, greyish brown. Terminal stem twigs reddish.
Mature Bark Texture Peeling / Flaking / Papery, Scaly
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)
Mature Bark Texture Remarks Rough bark

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Cream / Off-White
Flower Symmetry Radial
Flower Size - Remarks Very small (0.5cm across)
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Fleshy Fruit , Drupe

Image Repository



Master ID 438
Species ID 1734
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 15 February 2022.