Terminalia spp.


The genus Terminalia includes a large group of medicinally valuable trees. They belong to the family Combretaceae.

The most important medicinal species of the genus Terminalia are the following.

1) T. arjuna (Roxb.ex DC) Wight & Arn.

San: Arjunah, Kakubhah;

Hin: Arjun, Kahu, Kahua;

Mal: Marutu, Nirmarutu, Venmarutu, Attumarutu, Pulamatti;

Tam: Attumarutu, Nirmarutu, Vellaimarutu, Marutu;

Kan: Maddi.

It is a large evergreen tree commonly found in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Peninsular and India. It has buttressed trunk and spreading crown with drooping branches. Bark is smooth, grey outside and flesh coloured inside, flaking off in large flat pieces. Leaves are simple, sub-opposite, oblong or elliptic, coriaceous, crenulate, pale dull green above, pale brown beneath, often unequal sided, nerves 10-15 pairs and reticulate. Flowers are white, arranged in panicles of spikes with linear bracteoles. Fruits are ovoid or oblong with 5-7 short, hard angles or wings, the lines on the wings oblique and curving upward (Warrier et al 1996).

The bark is useful in fractures, ulcers, urethrorrhoea, leucorrhoea, diabetes, vitiated conditions of pitta, anaemia, cardiopathy, fatigue, asthma, bronchitis, tumours, internal and external haemorrhages, cirrhosis of the lever and hypertension. It is used in fractures and the powdered bark is taken with milk. The bark powder is diuretic and has a general tonic effect in cases of cirrhosis of liver. The bark has been considered by the ayurvedic physicians as well as by modern practitioners as a cardiac tonic. It is given as a decoction with milk (NRF, 1998). In Ayurveda, “Arjunaghrita” and “Arjunarishta” are two important cardiotonic preparations of this drug.

Fruits contain flavanones – arjunone and 5,7,2’, 4’ – tetramethoxy flavone and a chalcone – cerasidin. Other constituents are -sitosterol, friedelin, methyloleanolate, gallic acid, ellagic acid and arjunic acid. Bark gave a triterpene arjungenin, triterpene glucosides I, II and III. Stem bark gave flavones – baicalein and arjunolone characterised as 6,4’ – dihydraxy – 7-methoxy flavone. Stem bark yields oxalic acid and tannins besides complex glycosides (Bhatra et al, 1980). Bark is alexertic, styptic, antidysenteric, astringent, antiasthmatic, febrifuge, expectorant, cardiotonic aphrodisiac and diuretic. Fruit is deobstruent. Stem-bark is CVS and CNS active, diuretic and abortifacient. Aerial part is CNS depressant and semen coagulant.

2) T. alata Heyne ex Roth. Syn. T. tomentosa (Roxb. Ex. Dc.) W & A.

San: Dharaphala, Saradru, Sajada;

Hin. Ain;

Ben: Asan, Paishal;

Mal: Tehmbara;

Tam: Karramarda, Karu Murutha, Marudam, Pudavam.

This tree is distributed in Himalaya from Kangra eastwords to Goalpara in Assam and southwards throughout the Peninsular India, upto 1200 m. The bark of the tree is widely used in ulcers, fractures, bronchitis and diarrhoea. Hydrolysis of the gum gives oligosaccharides, disaccharides and monosaccharides. Leaves and fruits give -sitosterol. Bark is diuretic, antihaemorrhagic, styptic, cardiotonic and semen coagulant.

3) T. bellirica (Craertn.) Roxb.

San: Aksha, Anilaghanaka, Baheduka, Harya, Kalinda;

Hin: Bulla, Sagona;

Ben: Bahera, Baheri;

Tam: Akkam, Kalanduri, Tani;

Tel: Bhutavasamu Tadi, Tandra, Vibhutakamu.

Belliric Myrobalan is distributed throughout India, upto 900 m. Its bark is used in anaemia and leucoderma. The fruit is used in bronchitis, strangury, sore throat, diseases of eye, nose, heart and bladder, hoarseness and piles. It forms an important constituent of the ayurvedic drug ‘triphala’. Furits contain -sitosterol, gallic and ellagic acids, ethyl gallate, galloyl glucose, chebulagic acid and a cardiac glucoside bellaricanin. Alcoholic extract of the fruit possesses bile-stimulating activity. Alcoholic extract, 30 mg/kg does not affect blood pressure and respiration, but a higher dose of 60 mg/kg produces a fall in blood pressure. Furit has anticancerous and flower has spermicidal activity. Bark is mild diuretic. Fruit is astringent, antidropsical, antileprotic, antiinflammatory, antidiarrhoeal, antibilious, stomachic, antiasthmatic, tonic, anticephalgic, bechic, anthelmintic and attenuant. Kernel is narcotic. Semi -ripe fruit is purgative. Gum is demulcent (Husain et al, 1992)

4) T. bialata steud.

White Chugalam or silver grey wood is a common tree of Andaman Islands. Its bark is used as a cardiac stimulant.

5) T. Catappa Linn.

San: Grahadruma;

Hin: Badam;

Ben: Bangla Badam:

Tam: Natuvdom, Vadhamkottai;

Tel: Vedam, Voda Movettilla; Mar: Jangli Badama, Nat Badam.

Indian Almond or Tropical Almond is a popular tree cultivated throughout the warmer parts of India including Andaman Islands and other adjacent island. Oil from the kernel is a substitute for almond oil. The leaf is used in scabies and colic. Husk and endocarp contain tannins and pentosans. Oil from kernel contains oleic, linoleic, palmitic and stearic acids. Heart wood and stem bark contains -sitosterol and its palmitate. Heartwood in addition contains terminolic acid and triterpenic methyl esters. The aerial part of the plant is diuretic. The bark is astringent, mild diuretic, cardiotonic and antidysenteric. Leaf is sudorific, antirheumatic, antileprotic and anticephalalgic.

6) T. Coriacea (Roxb.) syn. T. tomentosa (Roxb. ex. DC.) W. & A. var. coriacea (Roxb.) C. B. Clarke

Tam: Anaimikkuvam, Sadagam;

Kan: Banapu;

Tel: Tani.

Leathery Murdah is a tree commonly used as a cardiac stimulant. It is widely distributed in the drier and warmer parts of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu upto 1350 m and in Central India. Its bark is mainly used as a cardiac stimulant and in atonic diarrhoea and callous ulcer. It is also CVS active.

7) T. myriocarpa Heurck. & Muell. Arg.

Ben: Panisaj; Ass: Hollock, Jhalna.

Hollock is a tree of the Himalayas widely distributed from Nepal to Arunachal Pradesh and in Assam at 1000 m. The bark is cardiac stimulant and mild diuretic. Bark give -sitosterol, fructose and 4,4’,5,5’,6,6’ – hexadydroxy diphenic acid dilactone. Bark also contains tannis – ellagic, gallic, chebulinic and chebulagic acids.

8) T. Pallida Brandis.

Tam: Vellai Kadukkay;

Tel: Tella Karaka, Velama Karka.

The plant is distributed throughout south India, upto 600m. Its bark is a mild diuretic.

9) T. Paniculata Roth.

Mal: Marutu, Pe Marutu, Ven Marutu;

Tam: Pei Kadukai, Ven Maruthu, Ilai Kadukkay, Marudu, Pullatti;

Tel: Nimiri, Pulamaddi, Putamanu, Pulanallamanu;

Kan: Maruva, Matti.

Flowering Murdah is a tree which is widely used in opium poisoning. It is distributed in the Western and Eastern Ghats, upto 1200m. The bark is used in parotitis and flowers in opium poisioning. Heart wood give 3, 3’-0-di-methylellagic acid and 3,4,3’0-trimethyl flavellagic acid, -sitosterol, an uncharacterized triterpene carboxylic acid; a glycoside -3,3’ di-0 – methyl ellagic acid – 4 – monoglucoside and 0 – penta methyl flavellogic acid. The stem bark is anticancerous, diuretic, cardiotonic CVS active and shows antagonism of amphetamine hyperactivity. Flower is anticholerin (Husain et al, 1992)

10) Terminalia chebula Retz. Syn. Myrobalanus chebula (Retz.) Gaertner

Eng: Chebulic myrobalan;


Ben: Haritaki;

Hindi:Harara, Harir,

Har; Mal:Kadukka; Ass:Hilikha; Kan:Alale;




Guj: Hirdo;



Tel: Karaka

Chebulic myrobalan is a medium deciduous tree, the fruit of which is a common constituent of “Triphala” capable of imparting youthful vitality and receptivity of mind and sense. It is a major constituent in the ayurvedic preparations like Abhayarishta, Abhaya modak, Haritaki khand, Triphaladi churnam and Agastya rasayanam. In allopathy it is used in astringent ointments. In unani system, it is used as a blood purifier. The pulp of the fruit is given in piles, chronic diarrhoea, dysentery, costiveness, flatulence, asthma, urinary disorders, vomiting, hiccup, intestinal worms, ascites and enlarged spleen and liver. Powder of the fruit is used in chronic ulcers and wounds, carious teeth and bleeding ulceration of the gums. The bark is a good cardiac tonic. The fruit is valuable for its tannins and dyes. The wood is used for building purposes, agricultural implements, plywood and match box industries. It is also grown as a shade tree.

The plant is found throughout India chiefly in deciduous forests, on dry slopes upto 900m especially in Bengal, Tamil Nadu, West coast and Western Ghats. The plant is also reported in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Burma.

Terminalia chebula Retz. syn. Myrobalanus chebula (Retz.) Gaertner comes under family Combretaceae. It is a medium sized deciduous tree with a cylindrical bole, rounded crown, spreading branches with dark brown bark and brownish gray heartwood. Leaves are simple, alternate or subopposite, ovate or elliptic ovate with short petioles bearing 2 glands below the blades. Flowers pale yellow or white in 4-10cm long axillary spikes. Calyx tube hairy pale yellow and 5 lobed; no petals. Stamens consist of 10 filaments subulate, anthers small; ovary inferior, 1-celled with 2-3 pendulous ovule. Fruit is a drupe, ovoid glossy, glabrous, faintly angled and yellow to orange brown in colour. Seeds are hard and pale yellow.

Kernel oil of Chebulic myrobalan contains 6 fatty acids viz. Palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, arachidic and behenic acid. The fruits contain chebulinic acid, tannic acid, gallic acid, chebulin and tannin. Leaves contain terpenes and saponins and -sitosterol is present in the bark (Beri, 1970; Khalique and Nizamuddin, 1972; Miglani and Chawla, 1974). Fruits are astringent, purgative, tonic, carminative, alternative and antispasmodic. Flowers and fruits are antiviral and hypoglycaemic. Wood is oxytocic and hypothermic (Husain et al, 1992).

Agrotechnology: Terminalia species are, in general, subtropical trees. Young plants prefer shade while the matured plants tolerate light frost and drought. It grows well in hilly areas. This is propagated by seeds. Natural multiplication happens rarely due to the poor seeds germination. Seeds soaked in water for 48 hours before sowing in seedbeds which should be covered with straw after sowing. It is watered immediately. Usually it takes 3-5 months to germinate. It can be transferred to polybags at two-leaf stage. One-year-old seedlings are ready for transplanting. For transplanting, pits are made of 50cm cube at a spacing of 4m. Organic manure, added regularly, promotes growth. Irrigation is required during first year. Weeds should be removed regularly. This plant grows slowly. It fruits within 6-7 years. This is continued for many years. It is coppiced well. Fruits are collected immediately after falling down or covered with soil to protect it from pests. Fruits dried well in sun and used or stored. The hard seed coat is removed before sowing.

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