Terminalia bellirica

Common name: Myrobalan

Other common names: Bastard mybolan, Beach almond, Belleric, Bedda nut tree

Names in non-English languages: India Thailand


Myrobalan is a timber, medicinal and tanning-yielding tree native to India and Southeast Asia, its natural range extending from India to Malaysia and its distribution within its range scattered across semi-evergreen and deciduous forests. 

In closely spaced forests it reaches heights of up to 35 m (115 ft) with a slim, branch-free trunk for most of its height and buttressed roots on large trees. In open spaces it is more commonly 15 to 24 m (50 to 80 ft) tall with a wide-spreading, densely branched rounded crown. The bark is bluish grey, smooth on young trees, developing longitudinal cracks as the tree ages.

The leaves are broadly oval, about 15 cm (6 in ) long, glossy green and crowded toward the ends of the branches. They are semi-evergreen to deciduous, falling off the tree during the dry season to conserve water. The new leaves are bronze-red when they emerge, gradually becoming light green then dark green.

The flowers are small, greenish-white, unpleasant in their aroma and either bisexual or male borne tightly packed on finger-like spikes that arise at the leaf axis. They come into bloom in summer, at around the same time as the new leaves start to grow, which signals the end of the dry season in its native range. They are followed by roundish fruit that mature about five to six months after fruit-set, turning grey-brown with a covering of fine hairs.


Myrobalan is occasionally cultivated as an avenue tree in India, for its impressive form, attractive foliage and the shade it provides.

It produces a medium-weight wood, averaging around 700 kilograms per cubic meter (44 pounds per cubic ft), with low natural resistance to rot and decay. This classes it as a non-durable hardwood suitable only for above-ground and indoor construction. It is considered a minor timber species, with the sawn timber used mainly for interior flooring and for the manufacture of boxes and low-value furniture. Selected logs are sliced into sheets for plywood and the small-diameter logs processed into pulp for making printing, writing and wrapping papers.

The ripe fruit contain around 20% tannin and are dried and used traditionally as a tanning agent in India, and commercially to achieve a dark brown colour in both fabric and leather products, but is considered inferior to tannin sourced from Black myrobalan (Terminalia chebula).

The fresh leaves are considered a good cattle feed. They have a crude protein content of 9 to 14% of their dry weight.

Oil extracted from the kernels is used in the manufacture of soap and as a hair-oil.

The flowers are a major nectar source for foraging honeybees in the Indian states of Kerela and Karnataka, in southern India. However, the honey flavour is described as nauseating, which would make it unfit for human consumption.

Health use

The fruit contains high levels of tannins that give it astringent properties. In traditional Indian or Ayurveda medicine, the ripe fruit are collected and used in the treatment of diarrhoea and indigestion, and the half-ripe fruit for their purgative and laxative action, due to the presence of an oil with properties similar to that of 'Castor oil' from Ricinus communis.

A gum exuded from the bark, traded as 'Baheda gum' is reportedly utilised in India, most probably as a medicine. It is described as a dark gum, with a smooth, crack-free surface that in water becomes gelatinous and tough, with very little of it dissolving. However, it sometimes contains calcium oxalate, which can contribute to the formation of kidney stones and should be consumed with caution.


Grows naturally in sub-humid to humid subtropical and tropical lowland to mid-elevation climates, generally in areas with annual lows of 16 to 25°C, annual highs of 26 to 35°C, annual rainfall of 800 to 3300 mm and a dry season of 3 to 8 months. It has its best development in areas with annual rainfall of 1500 mm or more.


New plants are usually grown from seed. Performs best on free-draining clay and loam soils of a moderately acid to neutral nature, generally with a pH of 5.0 to 7.0, and on sites with full to partial sun exposure.

Problem features

It is listed as a weed in at least one reference publication, but there does not appear to be any record of it anywhere as a serious weed.

The seed kernel is mildly toxic and has a narcotic effect if eaten.

Where it grows



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Articles, Journals, Reports and Working Papers

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