Species Guide: Common Urban Trees


A Terminalia catappa with its pagoda-like tree crown. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Common name: Indian Almond, Tropical Almond Tree

Malay name: Ketapang

Scientific name: Terminalia catappa

Conservation status: Cultivated, Native to Malaysia


A large tree that grows up to 35 m tall. It is shaped liake a pagoda and sheds leaves twice a year. Leaves are spirally arranged, reverse-egg-shaped, papery to thinly leathery, dark green above and yellow-green below. The leaves turn red before falling. Bears small, fragrant, whitish flowers. Produces flat, egg-shaped fruits with a stony core that turns from green to yellow or red when ripe.

Green, almond-shaped fruits of Terminalia catappa. Photo by Goh Shang Ming
Star-shaped flowers of Terminalia catappa. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Habit: Perennial tree

Cultivation: It is planted by seeds

Ecological function: The flowers attract pollinators. Fruits are eaten by bats

Pollinator: Insects

Soil: Sand, loam, clay. It can tolerate saline soils

Moisture: Moist, well-drained soil. The tree is drought-tolerant

Shade: No shade, semi-shade

Use: Edible (fruits), ornamental

By ShangMing

A plant lover. I like small, medium, gigantic, ordinary, exotic, local, foreign plants. Just because they thrive to stand out.