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Terminalia buceras


Terminalia buceras (L.) C. Wright

Family Name: Combretaceae

Buceras bucida Crantz, Bucida ophiticola Bisse, Bucida subinermis Bisse

Common Name: Black Olive, Olive-bark Tree

Terminalia buceras, also known as Black Olive, is a semi-deciduous tree, up to 40 m tall. The flowers are white to cream coloured and strongly scented. The bark is used in Puerto Rico and Jamaica for tanning purposes.


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Tiered
Maximum Height 40 m


Native Distribution Central and South America
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Non-native

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a semi-deciduous tree, 3.5 – 40 m tall. Spines may be present on the branches, especially when the tree is young.
Foliage Leaves are spirally arranged and tend to cluster at the tip of the branch. The leaves are oval-shaped (2 – 11 cm long and 1 – 6.7 cm wide), and leathery. The leaf margin may roll slightly downwards (revolute). Leaf tip is rounded to notched (retuse) while leaf base is cuneate. Petiole is 0.2 – 1.2 cm long and usually with glands. Domatia is absent.
Flowers Inflorescence is a spike, about (2.5) – 4 – 19 cm long, and consist of many small and sessile flowers. The flowers are white to cream coloured and strongly scented. Each flower is bisexual, with 4 – 5 calyx lobes, whorled stamens and hairy hypanthium.
Fruits Fruit is woody, achene-like and oval shaped with a beak at the tip. They are borne on a stalk which is about 0.4 – 0.7 cm long and 0.2 – 0.45 cm wide.
Habitat It is found in secondary forests, shrubland, savannas, coastal forest, swampy forest and on limestone, up to 1200 m altitude.
Cultivation It may develop galls that resemble bull’s horn if it is infected with Eriophyid mites.
Etymology Terminalia, in Latin, refers to the plant’s leaves that are clustered at the end of end of the twigs. Buceras, in Latin, refers to the narrowly curved galls which resembles bull’s horn.
Ethnobotanical Uses [Others]: In Puerto Rico and Jamaica, the bark is used for tanning purposes. It is also used externally on wounds to stop bleeding. The timber is said to be valuable.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Fragrant
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Well-Drained Soils
Landscape Uses Roadside Tree / Palm
Usage Hazard - Cons Remarks Various parts of the plant contain tannic acid which may stain the pavements when dropped. 

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Butterfly Food Plant

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Operational Notes
Diseases It may develop galls that resemble bull’s horn if it is infected with Eriophyid mites.


Foliage Retention Drought / Semi-Deciduous
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Cream / Off-White, Green


References Stace, C.A. and Abdul-Ridha Alwan (2010). Combretaceae. Flora Neotropica, Vol. 107, pp. 1-369

Image Repository



Master ID 1468
Species ID 2761
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: 29 September 2021.