Terminalia catappa L.

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Terminalia catappa L.
Talisay
Talisay
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Myrtales
Family: Combretaceae
Genus: Terminalia
Species: T. catappa
Binomial name
Terminalia catappa
L.


The Talisay tree (Terminalia catappa L.) is also called the "Indian almond", "tropical almond" or "sea almond". It is a deciduous shady tree often grown in the Philippines for ornamental purposes.

Contents

Description

The talisay is a pagoda-shaped tree with a spreading crown.<ref name="test1">Mangrove and Wetland Wildlife at Sungei Buloh Nature Park. Entry on Sea Almond by Ria Tan (2001) (accessed December 12, 2007).</ref> It reaches up to 15 to 25 meters in height, and the trunk grows as big as 1 to 1.5 meters in diameter. It has gray brown bark and leathery dark green leaves that turn red or yellow before they fall. The generic name comes from the Latin "terminalis" (ending) and refers to the habit of the leaves being crowded at the ends of the shoots. The greenish white, very small flowers have a slight bad smell and no petals. Most of the flowers are male and borne near the top, while a few hermaphroditic ones appear below. Some spikes have only male flowers. The green-red fruit is hard, rounded and flattened, egg-shaped, 2.5 x 3 to 6 cm long, and turns yellow or reddish when ripe. A tough, fibrous husk within a fleshy pericarp enclose the cylindrical, oil-containing seeds.<ref name="test2">World Agroforestry Centre Agroforestry Tree Database. Entry on Terminalia catappa L. (accessed December 12, 2007).</ref>

Habitat and Distribution

The talisay tree is native to Southeast Asia. It is not an native species but a cultivated species in the Philippines. It grows best in moist tropical climates, especially in coastal areas, and is well adapted to sandy and rocky coasts. The species loses its leaves twice a year in most areas, with a brilliant red-and-yellow display of leaf colour before doing so; this helps the tree tolerate 1 or 2 annual dry seasons when it occurs. Its natural habitat is in areas just inland from ocean beaches, near river mouths, and on coastal plains. The talisay tree flourishes best in sandy and loamy sand soil.<ref name="test2">World Agroforestry Centre Agroforestry Tree Database. Entry on Terminalia catappa L. (accessed December 12, 2007).</ref>

Cultivation

The talisay thrives in places with full sunshine and moist, well drained soil. It is tolerant to salt and drought, but not to frost and extremely low temperatures.<ref name="test3">Tropilab, Inc. Entry on Terminalia catappa L. (accessed December 12, 2007).</ref>

Uses

  • Fruit. The kernel may be eaten raw or roasted and tastes like almonds. The kernels may also be used in producing a bland yellow oil that may be used in cooking.<ref name="test2">World Agroforestry Centre Agroforestry Tree Database. Entry on Terminalia catappa L. (accessed December 12, 2007).</ref>
  • Foliage The leaves may be used as feeds for silkworms and other animal feeds.<ref name="test2">World Agroforestry Centre Agroforestry Tree Database. Entry on Terminalia catappa L. (accessed December 12, 2007).</ref> According to the Philippine Textile Institute, talisay leaves may be used to produce a natural black dye for textiles.<ref name="test4">PTRI’s natural dyes add oomph to the baro. Article from the S&T Post of the Science and Technology Information Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (accessed December 12, 2007).</ref> The leaves are also used in aquariums by breeders of tropical aquarium fishes; their antiseptic effects help to keep the fish healthy.<ref name="test5">Tropical Aquaworld.com. Facts on Terminalia catappa (accessed December 12, 2007).</ref>
  • Wood The tree provides a red, good-quality, elastic, cross-grained timber that seasons well and works easily. Strong and pliable, talisay wood is used for the construction of buildings, boats, bridges, floors, boxes, crates, planks, carts, wheelbarrows, barrels and water troughs.<ref name="test2">World Agroforestry Centre Agroforestry Tree Database. Entry on Terminalia catappa L. (accessed December 12, 2007).</ref>
  • Resin Talisay resin may be used for gum.<ref name="test2">World Agroforestry Centre Agroforestry Tree Database. Entry on Terminalia catappa L. (accessed December 12, 2007).</ref>
  • Tannin Bark, leaves, roots and fruit are all important sources of tannin; the astringent bark contains 9 to 23% tannin. The outer shell is also rich in tannin. The trunk is also a source of yellow and black dye which is used in leather preparation and as a base for inks. Sometimes the roots and fruits are used for the same purposes.<ref name="test2">World Agroforestry Centre Agroforestry Tree Database. Entry on Terminalia catappa L. (accessed December 12, 2007).</ref>
  • Medicine Parts of the tree, such as the leaves and fruit, are astringent. The leaves, are combined and crushed with Dacrydium elatum and rhizomes of Cyperus rotundus to treat dysentery. The red leaves act as a vermifuge, while the sap of young leaves, cooked with oil from the kernel, may be used to treat leprosy. Leaves may be rubbed on breasts to cure pain or, when heated, may be applied to numb parts of the body. They may be also be used as a dressing for swollen rheumatic joints. Leaves, bark and fruit are used to treat yaws. The bark and root bark are useful for bilious fever, diarrhoea, thrush, and as a remedy for sores and abscesses. The kernel of the fruit mixed with beeswax stops putrid exudation and bloody faeces, and is recommended as a mild laxative and a galactagogue for women; however, too frequent use causes diarrhoea. The young leaves are also used to cure headaches and colic.<ref name="test2">World Agroforestry Centre Agroforestry Tree Database. Entry on Terminalia catappa L. (accessed December 12, 2007).</ref>

Relevance

The talisay's vast root system helps in erosion control. Its tolerance to salt and drought makes it a good choice for reforestation. Its shape and foliage make it a good ornamental and shade tree. It also helps in eradicating Imperata cylindrica and other unwanted grasses.<ref name="test2">World Agroforestry Centre Agroforestry Tree Database. Entry on Terminalia catappa L. (accessed December 12, 2007).</ref>

Jose Rizal, the Philippine National Hero, wrote a poem called "Himno a Talisay" (Hymn to the Talisay), in praise of the tree.

In the Philippines, three municipalities and two cities are named after the talisay tree. (See Most Popular Names for Towns and Cities in the Philippines.)

References

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External Links

Citation

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