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Terminalia catappa


Terminalia catappa L.

Family Name: Combretaceae
Synonyms: Terminalia latifolia Blanco, Terminalia moluccana Lamk.
Common Name: Sea Almond, Ketapang, Tropical Almond Tree, Pacific Almond, Singapore Almond, Indian Almond, Lingtak, Bastard Almond, Telisai, Jelawai Ketapang, 榄仁树


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Big (>30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Tiered
Maximum Height 35 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 20 m


Native Distribution From tropical Asia to North Australia and Polynesia
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Coastal Forest), Shoreline (Mangrove Forest, Sandy Beach, Rocky Beach)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Least Concern (LC))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a pagoda-shaped tree that can grow up to 35 m, and will shed its leaves twice a year. Its leaves are clustered at the end of the twigs.
Trunk The trunk is often buttressed, with grey bark that is slightly fissured.
Foliage It has spiral, stalked leaves that are papery to thinly leathery, dark green above, yellowish green below, and will turn red before falling. Each leaf is reverse-egg-shaped, 8–38 cm long by 5–19 cm wide, with 6–12 pairs of veins arising from the main vein of the leaf, and a pair of glands at the base of the leaf.
Flowers The plant is monoecious, producing both male and bisexual flowers. The flowers are fragrant, white to whitish green, small, 0.5 cm across, and occur on numerous-flowered, 8–16 cm long flower shoots that are inserted at the leaf axils.
Fruit It produces fruits with a stony core that are green when unripe, yellow or red when ripe, flattened-egg-shaped, 3.5–7 wide long by 2–5.5 cm wide. 2 narrow wings, up to 3 mm wide, can be found along the side of the fruit. Each fruit contains 1 seed.
Similar Easily mistaken for Fagraea crenulata (Cabbage Tree), which has a similar shape and foliage, and is also a wayside tree. However, the Cabbage Tree is not deciduous and has larger, more obovate leaves, thorny branches, as well as deeply furrowed bark.
Associated Fauna The fruits are attractive to bats which also help with seed dispersal.
Etymology Terminalia, in Latin, refers to the plant’s leaves that are clustered at the end of end of the twigs, The name catappa is derived from its Malay name, ketapang.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts : Edible Fruits
Food (Fruit or Vegetable): The kernel has a flavour similar to almonds, hence the common name. 
Cultural / Religious: Heritage Tree: There is currently 2 individuals of Terminalia catappa listed as Heritage Trees in Singapore. To find out more about this tree, please visit the Heritage Tree Register.
Others: The leaves and bark are used in tanning and dyeing. 

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable as a roadside tree, as it is coastal plant, which can tolerate hot sun, dry and high wind condition. It is attractive as its plant shape is similar to a pagoda, and its leaves will turn red before falling.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage, Ornamental Form
Landscape Uses Coastal, Suitable for Roadsides, General, Parks & Gardens, Beachfront / Shoreline
SGMP Treatment

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bat Food
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna), Abiotic

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Drought Tolerant, Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Saline Soils / Salt Spray
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Drought / Semi-Deciduous
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Papery, Leathery, Thin
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Spiral
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Obovate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Unisexual & Bisexual Flowers(Sub-dioecious)
Flower Colour(s) White, Cream / Off-White
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal

Image Repository



Master ID 1888
Species ID 3181
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: 14 October 2021.