A genus of about 200 species of evergreen and deciduous, often buttressed trees that occur in most tropical region. They characteristically have their foliage arranged in tiers at the tips of branches, hence the generic name, Terminalia, from the Latin terminus, "end". A number of species are important as sources of lumber, gums, dyes, and tannin. The dried fruits of several species are sold in markets in SE Asia as "myrobalans". Terminalia chebula is widely grown in the tropics as a shade tree and ornamental; it is sacred to Shiva, and of central importance in Ayurvedic medicine. The triphala ("three fruits"), a laxative tonic, is based on T. belerica (bibhitaki, bastard myrobalan, beleric myrobalan), T. chebula, and Phyllanthus emblica (See, Emblic). Terminalia chebula was first mentioned in Chinese medicine in 1061. In Tibetan medicine it is known as "king of medicines" and with T. arjuna and T. belerica, features in most formulas. The tropical Asian T. catappa (Indian almond) has highly astringent bark and leaves, which are important in folk medicine for treating diarrhea and dysentery. It yields almond-flavored seeds, surrounded by juicy, edible flesh; the seeds are used in exactly the same way as almonds; they can likewise be pressed for oil. In Cambodia and Vietnam, T. nigrovenulosa (preah phnau) is used in the form of bark decoctions to treat chronic diarrhea, and the S African T. sericea is used internally for diarrhea, pneumonia, and diabetes, and externally for wounds and eye complaints. The Australian T. ferdinandiana (Kakadu plum) produces small gooseberry-like fruits that are one of the richest known sources of vitamin C, containing 50 times as much as oranges.

Evergreen tree with leathery, ovate, pointed leaves to 12cm (5in) long, which have wooly undersides. Tiny odoriferous, cream flowers are borne in spikes to 8cm (3in) long in summer, followed by ovoid-oblong, yellow-brown fruits, about 4cm (1½in) long.

Common Name:
Other Names:
Black Chebulic, Haritaki
Botanical Name:
Terminalia chebula
Sri Lanka, India, Myanmar (Burma), and Nepal.
Fertile, sandy soil in sun.
By seed sown when ripe at 18-24°C (64-75°F); by layering in spring.
Fruits are collected when ripe and sun-dried for use in decoctions, pastes, and powders.
15-25m (50-80ft)
20m (70ft)
Min. 16-18°C (61-64°F)
Parts Used:
Fruits (he zi)
A sweet, astringent, warming herb, with and unpleasant taste; it regulates colon function, improves digestion, is expectorant, controls bleeding and discharges, and destroys intestinal parasites. It also has a tonic, rejuvenative effect, especially on the digestive, respiratory, and nervous systems.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for constipation, digestive and nervous disorders, diarrhea, dysentery, intestinal worms, hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse, abnormal uterine bleeding and inflammation, vaginal discharge, involuntary ejaculation, coughs, night sweats, and asthma. Externally for ulcers, wounds, mouth inflammation, and gum disease.
Culinary Uses:
Sour fruits are eaten fresh in salads, pickled in brine, or fried; also used to make "black salt" which is an essential ingredient of a spice blend known as chat masala.
Economic Uses:
Dried fruits are used in tanning and inks.
Not given to pregnant women or patients with severe exhaustion or dehydration.
Encylopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright ©: 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited pg 384