Interim profile, incomplete information
Taxonomic name: Terminalia catappa L.
Synonyms: Badamia comersoni Gaertn., Buceras catappa Hitchc., Juglans catappa Lour., Phytolacca javanica Osbeck, Terminalia badamia Tul., Terminalia dichotoma Miq., Terminalia latifolia Blanco, Terminalia mauritana Blanco, Terminalia moluccana Lam., Terminalia ovatifolia Nor.
Common names: alconorque (Costa Rica), alite (Solomon Islands), almendra, almendrillo (Spanish), almendro (Spanish), almendro de la india (Spanish), almendro del pais (El Salvador), almendron (Spanish), alumpit (Philippines), amandelboom (Surinam), amandier de Cayenne (French Guiana), amandier des indies (Haiti), amandier des tropiques (Gabon), amendoeira (Brazil), amendoeira (Portuguese-Brazil), amendoeira-da-india (Portuguese), badam (Indian), badam (India), badamier (Southeast Asia and West Africa), badamier (French), barbados almond (English), bastard almond (English), beach almond (English), bengal almond (English), castafiola (Brazil), castanhola (Portuguese), castania (Peru), chapeu-de-sol (Portuguese-Brazil), country almond (English), demarara almond (English), false kamani (English), fijian almond (English), guarda-sol (Brazil), india almond (English), Indischer Mandelbaum (German), kamani ‘ula (Hawaii), kamani-haole (Hawaii), Katappenbaum (German), kauariki (Cook Islands), kaukauariki (Cook Islands), ketapang (Malaysia), koa‘i‘i (Marquesas), kotamba (Columbia), koua‘i‘i (Marquesas), ma‘i‘i (Marquesas), malabar-almond (English), malay almond (English), natapoa (Vanuatu), parasol (Brazil), saori (Solomon Islands), sea-almond (English), singapore almond (English), story tree (English), ta‘ie (Marquesas), talie (Samoa), talisai (Philippines), talise (Papua New Guinea), taraire (Cook Islands), tavola (Fiji), tavola nut (English), telie (Tonga/Tokelau/Tuvalu), tipapop (Ponape, Caroline Islands), tipop (Ponape, Caroline Islands), tivi (Fiji), tropical almond (English), west indian almond (English), white bombway (Andaman Islands), wilde amandel (Netherlands Antilles), zanmande (Haiti)
Organism type: tree
Terminalia catappa is a native plant of Asia that has escaped from cultivation. Due to its ability to cope with sandy, well draining soil, and salt spray it is often found on coastal regions. It is considered invasive in Florida, United States, and several Carribean Islands, including Montserrat, Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands. Its seeds are highly bouyant which allows it disperse vast distances however they are highly edible so are eaten by bats, crabs and humans. However despite its potential as being an invasive species it is being considered for multiple applications. Due to its extensive and deep-rooting structure it is considered a possible species to use as a dune retention species against proposed climate change and sea-level rise, and in Brazil it is also being considered a potential cultivar to use in bio-fuel creation.
Terminalia catappa is tolerant of strong winds, salt spray, and moderately high salinity in the root zone and grows principally in freely drained, well aerated, sandy soils. It is also easily propagated from seed, fast growing and flourishes with minimal maintenance in suitable environments. Its fruits that are produced from about three years of age, feature an ellipsoidal format and a coloration that ranges between yellow and purple when ripe, and contain a very hard kernel with an edible almond. The tree can reach 15 or 25 metres in height, with a trunk 1-1.5m in diameter, which is often buttressed at the base. Whorls of nearly horizontal, slightly ascending braches are spaced 1-2m apart in tiers up the trunk. Short-petioled, alternate leaves, spirally clustered at the branch tips, are obovate, 15-36cm long, 8-24cm wide, dark-green above, paler beneath, leathery and glossy. They turn bright scarlet, dark-red, dark purplish-red, or yellow in mid-winter in Florida and, in a few days, especially after a sudden rain, are shed all at once and are quickly replaced with silky, purplish new foliage. Flowers are greenish-white, very small, with no petals but 10-12 conspicuous stamens, and are arranged in several slender spikes 15-25cm long in the leaf axils. Generally the flowers are male and borne towards the apex, while a few hermaphrodite flowers appear below. Some spikes have only male flowers. The fruit is 4-7cm long, 2.5-3.8cm wide, ellipsoid, more pointed at the apex than at the base, slightly flattened, with a prominent keel around both sides and the tip, contributing to its ability to float long distances in the sea. The skin is smooth, waxy, and thin; ideally, it turns from green to yellow with a rich red blush, though some remain completely green or show very little reddish tint. Beneath is a layer of juicy, whitish to pink or reddish, slightly sweet, subacid or distinctly acis flesh, 3-6mm thick and adherent to a fibrous, corky, buoyant “nut”, the surface of which is cream coloured to bright pink. Within the thick husk is the hard-shelled stone containing the spindle shaped seed, 3-4cm long and 3-5mm thick, with its very thin, brown testa covering the white “kernel”. The “kernel” is more tender than an almond and of very pleasant, somewhat filbert-like flavor (Morton, 1985). There is a vast amount of genetic variability between cultivars of the different Pacific Islands it inhabits, due to traditional methods of trait selection. See Comprehensive species description for a thoroughly detailed, comprehensive description on T. catappa
coastland, riparian zones, wetlands
Terminalia catappa is present in Puerto Rico on the sandy coastal plains and foothills. It requires 1300-2000 mm of rainfall p/a (Francis & Logier, 1991). Thomson & Evans (2006) mention that the species is associated with coastal vegetation, especially strandline communities and beach forests, including rocky shores and mangrove swamps. It is also adapted to a wide range of lighter textured soil types and is found in subtropical and tropical maritime climates with annual rainfalls of generally 1000-3500mm and elevations below 300-400m.
Terminalia catappa naturalizes readily in suitable littoral habitats, and may be regarded as a potential weed threat to native plant communities (FLEPPC, 2009).
Terminalia catappa has been considered as a sand-dune stabilizer on the island of Puerto Rico due to its deep-rooting in reaction to potential climate change (Cambers, 2009). It is also widely planted for shade, ornamental purposes, and edible nuts. Studies in Brazil have also shown its possible use in the production of biodiesels (dos Santos et al, 2008). It has also been used as a foodsource for silkworms, and as a medicine in folklore (USDA ARS, 2010.)
Native Range: Terminalia catappa has a natural distribution from Seychelles through India, the Andamans and adjacent islands, and throughout Southeast Asia (Myanmar, Thailand, the Malay Peninsula, Vietnam, the Phillipines, Indonesia) to Papua New Guinea and Northern Australia as far south as the Tropic of Capricorn. It is also found throughout the South Pacific Region including the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji; as well as the high archipelagos of Polynesia and Micronesia but is possibly an aboriginal introduction to the eastern parts of this range (Thomson & Evans, 2006). The species is also found on China (within the Guangdong and Yunnan provinces), Taiwan, Cambodia, and New Caledonia (USDA, ARS, 2010)
Known introduced range: T. catappa has been introduced and naturalized in many tropical parts of the world including Brazil, the Carribean and East Africa. It has naturalized in Florida and Puerto Rico and was introduced very early, probably before the 1800's to Hawaii (Thomson & Evans, 2006). Other Islands include: The Domican Republic (Corneille & Olade, 2005), Antigua and Barbuda (Francis et al, 1994), Jamaica (Morton, 1985), Cayman Islands (Stoddart, 1980; JNCC, 2010), Montserrat (Stow, 2008), Virgin Islands (USDA-NRCS, 2010), Bermuda (JNCC, 2010), British Indian Ocean Territory (JNCC, 2010), Pitcairn (JNCC, 2010), Saint Helena (JNCC, 2010), Anguilla (JNCC, 2010), and Madagascar (USDA-NRCS, 2010).
Introduction pathways to new locations
Floating vegetation/debris: Seeds are bouyant, allowing them to travel via ocean currents (Whittaker, 1992).
Local dispersal methods
Agriculture (local): Trees are grown for their fruit in many areas of Brazil, so have the potential to establish in wild areas (dos Santos et al, 2008).
For ornamental purposes (local): In Florida, Terminalia catappa is often used as an ornamental tree within residential areas (Morton, 1985).
On animals: On Montserrat, animals, especially fruit bats, eat the fruit of Terminalia catappa and so have the potential to be dispersed widely (Stow, 2008).
On animals: On Krakatau Island, Terminalia catappa is almost certainly dispersed on land via crabs (Whittaker, 1992).
Preventative measures: A Risk Assessment of Terminalia catappa for Hawaii and other Pacific islands was prepared by Dr. Curtis Daehler (UH Botany) with funding from the Kaulunani Urban Forestry Program and US Forest Service. The alien plant screening system is derived from Pheloung et al. (1999) with minor modifications for use in Pacific islands (Daehler et al. 2004). The result is a score of 4 and a recommendation of: "the plant requires further evaluation."
In Florida T. catappa is listed by the Florida Exotic Pest Plants Council as a 'Category II environmental weed'
Biological: Bio-control agents could potentially be used in management of Terminalia catappa. Beetles, grasshoppers, leaf rollers and leaf miners have been observed to defoliate seedlings in India and Malaya. In Puerto Rico, a species of thrips defoliates the tree in winter. The tree is also a minor host of the Caribbean fruit fly (Anastrepha suspense) in Florida and a major host of the Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) in Costa Rica. Further investigation would be needed to establish the effectiveness of such vectors, as well as their possibility of becoming invasive species themselves (Morton, 1985).
Compiled by: IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) with support from the Overseas Territories Environmental Programme (OTEP) project XOT603, a joint project with the Cayman Islands Government - Department of Environment
Last Modified: Wednesday, 2 June 2010