Terminalia bellirica

Terminalia bellirica

The Beach-almond or Myrobalan (Terminalia bellirica (Gaertn.) Roxb.) Is an arboreal species belonging to the Combretaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota Domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Subarign Tracheobionta,
Spermatophyta superdivision,
Magnoliophyta Division,
Magnoliopsida class,
Subclass Rosidae,
Order Myrtales,
Combretaceae family,
Genus Terminalia,
T. bellirica species.
Basionimo is the term:
– Myrobalanus bellirica Gaertn .;
the terms are synonymous:
– Buceras bellirica (Gaertn.) Lyons;
– Myrobalanus laurinoides Kuntze;
– Terminalia attenuata Edgew.;
– Terminalia belirica (Gaertn.) Wall.;
– Terminalia bellirica var. laurinoides (Teijsm. & Binn.) C.B.Clarke;
– Terminalia biticaria Roxb.;
– Terminalia chebula Willd.;
– Terminalia chebula Willd. ex Fleming;
– Terminalia eglandulosa Roxb.;
– Terminalia eglandulosa Roxb. ex C.B.Clarke;
– Terminalia gella Dalzell;
– Terminalia laurinoides Teijsm. & Binn.;
– Terminalia moluccana Roxb.;
– Terminalia punctata Roth.

Etymology –
The term Terminalia comes from terminalis terminal: in reference to the leaves grouped at the ends of the branches.
The specific warlike epithet comes from the Arabic beliledj بليلج, borrowed from the Middle Persian Balilag, Persian بلیله (Balileh), and in turn from the Sanskrit Bibhitaka बिभीतक.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Terminalia bellirica is a plant native to South and Southeast Asia, present in southwestern China, the Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Its habitat is that of scattered forests, sunny mountain slopes, among the trees of the upper layer of the valleys of the brooks and lower seasonal rainforests, present at an altitude of 500 – 1,400 meters.

Description –
Terminalia bellirica is a large deciduous tree that can grow up to 50 meters in height, although usually, in cultivation, it is smaller and with a globular crown.
The trunk usually has a diameter of up to 200 cm, although exceptionally up to 300 cm, and can be branchless up to 20 meters.
The leaves are about 15 cm long and positioned towards the ends of the branches.
The leaves are alternately arranged and elliptical or elliptical obovate, leathery, dotted, whole. The tip of the leaf is narrow or rounded. The leaves are 8-20 cm long, 7.5-15 cm wide, on 2.15 cm long stems.
The flowers arise in spikes at the axil of the leaves, 5-15 cm long. They are greenish yellow, 5-6 mm wide, stemless, the upper flowers of the spike are male, the lower flowers are bisexual. The stamens are 3-4 mm long.
The fruit is obovoid of 1,5-2,5 cm of diameter, covered by a minute pale pubescence, very thick stone, indistinctly 5 angled.

Cultivation –
The Beach-almond is a large fast-growing deciduous tree.
The tree has long been used in Indian herbal medicine, the fruits were collected in nature and from crops.
The tree is grown everywhere in India due to its fruit and tannin-rich bark.
The seeds can be toxic or narcotic.
As for the cultivation technique, it should be remembered that the plant adapts to many habitats, succeeding in tropical and subtropical climates, where it does not grow above 600 m of altitude, or up to 1,400 meters in China.
In its natural distribution area, the average annual rainfall varies from 1,000 to over 3,000 mm and it grows best in areas where the annual daytime temperatures are between 20 and 33 ° C, although it can tolerate between 5 and 45 ° C.
It is quite sensitive to frost, although the seedlings can survive, particularly when overgrown with grass. Generally, temperatures as low as -1 ° C can kill a tree.
From the pedological point of view it is a plant that grows in any moderately fertile, well-drained soil in a sunny position and prefers a pH between 5.5 and 6.5, but tolerates between 5 and 7.5.
The young trees are somewhat tolerant to shade and prefer periodically dry soils; it is also moderately tolerant to drought and plants can tolerate short periods of flooding.
Pollination can be done by insects, as the flowers have an unpleasant smell, which attracts flies.
The trees planted with a sixth of 1 meter x 6 meters, in Java, have an average annual increase in height of 1.6 meters and a diameter of 2.1 cm at the age of 15; sown directly at 1 meter x 3 meters, the trees closed their foliage after 5 years and after 6 years they gave an annual increase in height and diameter of 1.2 meters and 1.3 cm respectively. Furthermore, the trees had reached a height of 20 – 25 meters in 15 years, after some thinning.
Trees react well to coppice, but topping does not give good results.
Propagation occurs by seed; pre-soaking in cold water for 24 hours before sowing is recommended to improve germination rates. Underground seeds have a better chance of successful germination. The germination rate is quite high for fresh seeds, with germination ratios of 85 – 100%, but rapidly decreases when the seeds have been stored for some time.
Germination requires a lot of moisture and usually takes 2 – 5 weeks.
Usually the seed is sown in a nursery seedbed but it can also be sown directly in the field when conditions are favorable.
However, the transplanting of seedlings grown in the nursery must be carried out before the taproot has developed.

Customs and Traditions –
Terminalia bellirica is a plant known by various names, also depending on where it grows or is cultivated. It is known as baheda, bahera, behada, belerico or myrobalan bastard (Arabic: beliledj بليلج).
The term Myrobalanus bellirica Gaertn is basionimo. William Roxburgh transferred M. bellirica to Terminalia as “T. bellerica (Gaertn.) Roxb.”. This misspelling is now widely used, causing confusion. However, the correct name is Terminalia bellirica (Gaertn.) Roxb.
In traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine, the plant is known as “Bibhitaki” (Marathi: “Behada or Bhenda”). Its fruit is used in the popular Indian herbal treatment rasayana triphala. In Sanskrit it is called bibhītaka बिभीतक. In India, Neemuch; a city in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh.
According to Dymock, Warden, Hooper: Pharmacographia Indica (1890): “This tree, in Sanskrit Bibhita and Bibhitaka (fearless), is avoided by the Hindus of northern India, who do not sit in its shadow, as it is supposed to be inhabited by In India there are two varieties of T. belerica, one with an almost globular fruit, 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch in diameter, the other with ovate and much larger fruit. The pulp of the fruit (myrobalan beleric ) is considered by Ayurvedic doctors as an astringent and laxative, and is prescribed with salt and long pepper in throat and chest infections as a constituent of triphala (three fruits), i.e. emblic, beleric and chebulic myrobalan, is used in a large number of diseases, and the kernel is sometimes used as an external application to the inflamed parts. Due to its medicinal properties, the tree bears the Sanskrit synonym of Anila-ghnaka, or “killing of the wind.” According to the Nighantus, the seeds are narcotic . ”
In the Charaka Samhita, the ancient Ayurvedic text, Bibhitaki fruits are mentioned as having qualities to relieve disease and bestow longevity, intellectual prowess and strength. There are several “rasaayan” described in the Charaka Samhita, which use Bibhitaki.
A description of the fourth Amalaka Rasaayan, which includes Bibhitaki as one of the fruits, quotes: “With this treatment, the sages regained their youth and attained a disease-free life for many hundreds of years, and endowed with the strength of the physique, intellect and of the senses, practiced penance with the utmost devotion “.
The nuts of the tree are rounded but with five flatter sides. They appear to be used as dice in the epic Mahabharata and in the book Rigveda (10 hymn 34). A handful of walnuts would be thrown onto a game board and players would have to call if an odd or even number of walnuts were thrown. In Nala, King Rituparna demonstrates his ability to instantly count large numbers by counting the number of nuts on an entire tree branch.
Kernels are eaten by the Lodha people of the Indian subcontinent for their mind-altering qualities.
The tree is however considered a good forage for livestock. Terminalia bellirica seeds have an oil content of 40%, the fatty acid methyl ester of which meets all major biodiesel requirements in the United States (ASTM D 6751-02, ASTM PS 121-99), Germany (DIN V 51606 ) and the European Union (EN 14214).
The seeds are called bedda nuts.
The seeds are edible but they can be toxic or narcotic, so much so that eating the seeds in any quantity except in small quantities can lead to narcotic effects.
The dark red fruits are edible and can be used to make preserves. They have a sub-acidic, pleasant-tasting flavor.
In your medicine, please note that the fruits contain anthraquinones and tannins. They are anthelmintic, astringent (especially when ripe), digestive, tonics and laxatives (especially immature).
The fruit is used internally mainly in the treatment of digestive and respiratory problems.
In Indian herbal medicine the ripe fruit is used in cases of diarrhea and indigestion, while the unripe fruit is used as a laxative in cases of chronic constipation.
The fruit is often used to treat upper respiratory infections that cause symptoms of sore throat, hoarseness, and cough.
Externally the fruit is used to make a lotion for sore eyes.
Sour fruits are one of the ingredients of ‘triphala’, a rejuvenating Ayurvedic tonic, laxative based on this species plus the fruits of Phyllanthus emblica and Terminalia chebula.
Among other uses, it should be remembered that a dye is obtained from the bark.
Dried fruit contains 20 – 25% tannin and a dye can be produced from the fruit which is occasionally used together with iron sulfate to dye black fabrics and mats, as an inexpensive substitute for indigo, and for the preparation of ink.
The leaves are also a source of tannins.
The seeds give about 40% of a light yellow oil, composed of 12% of palmitic acid, 16% of stearic acid, 43% of oleic acid and 29% of linoleic acid. This is used as a hair oil and in the manufacture of soaps.
In addition, you can prepare an excellent soap using a mixture of 60% of this oil, 25% of coconut oil and 15% of peanut oil.
A considerable amount of insoluble rubber is produced from the trunk.
The timber is yellowish-gray, heartwood-free, light to moderately heavy, fairly straight-grained, very coarse in texture. It is not durable and very prone to insect attack, although durability is said to be improved by immersing the wood in water. However, it is considered of little value and is used for construction and agricultural tools, especially in regions where other wood is scarce or expensive.
Large stems are used for hollowed out canoes.
Wood is valued for fuel and coal production.

Preparation Method –
Terminalia bellirica is a plant used since ancient times both in traditional medicine and for edible use.
The seeds are edible but can be toxic or narcotic and can only be eaten in small quantities.
The fruits are edible and can be used to make preserves.
In its medicine, the fruits are used as anthelmintics, astringents (especially when ripe), digestives, tonics and laxatives (especially unripe).
In Indian herbal medicine the ripe fruit is used in cases of diarrhea and indigestion, while the unripe fruit is used as a laxative in cases of chronic constipation.
The fruit is often used to treat upper respiratory infections.
Externally the fruit is used to make a lotion for sore eyes.
Sour fruits are one of the ingredients of ‘triphala’, a rejuvenating Ayurvedic tonic, laxative based on this species plus the fruits of Phyllanthus emblica and Terminalia chebula.
Furthermore, an excellent soap can be prepared and from the trunk an insoluble gum is produced in considerable quantities.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
Photo source:
– https://indiabiodiversity.org/biodiv/observations//304/577.JPG

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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