Fruit trees

Terminalia catappa, the tropical almond tree

The tropical almond tree is a tree that if you live in an area with a mild climate you will surely have seen it at some time. It is a very beautiful, fast-growing plant that gives very good shade thanks to its 35 meters high and its large leaves.

Do you want to know more about this incredible fruit tree? If you have a spacious place where you can grow it and the temperatures are mild, it will surely grow wonderfully.

Origin and characteristics of the tropical almond tree

Image – Wikimedia/ Alejandro Bayer Tamayo from Armenia, Colombia

The Terminalia catappa, which is how scientists know, is a deciduous tree (loses its leaves during the dry season) that can measure up to 35 meters high. The branches grow horizontally, upwards, but as it ages, its crown becomes more flattened. The flowers are monoecious, that is, there are male flowers and female flowers which are both on the same tree. The fruit is a drupe of about 5-7cm in length, and 3 to 5.5cm in width; They are first green, turning yellow or red as they finish ripening. These almonds, as they are called, have a slightly sour taste.

Its origin is not yet clear, but what is known is that it comes from a tropical region, perhaps from New Guinea, perhaps from Malaysia or perhaps from India. Even so, knowing that it grows in climates where there are no frosts, its cultivation is restricted to those regions, where the minimum temperature is 4ºC.

Growing and caring for Terminalia catappa

And speaking of cultivation, if you want to have a specimen, you can enjoy your tropical almond tree by giving it these cares:


Place your Indian almond tree in a bright area where it can receive direct sunlight throughout the day. In the event that you want to keep it indoors, place it in a room that has good clarity, and away from both cold and warm drafts.


Irrigation must be frequent. It will generally be watered 2-3 times a week in summer, and every 4-5 days the rest of the year. Also, you should know that it is not a good idea to spray/ spray the leaves as it could appear spots caused by fungi.

If you have it as an indoor plant and in your home the humidity is very low, the ideal is to buy a humidifier, or put glasses with water around the pot.


It is advisable to fertilize in the growing season (that is, in the rainy season if it is a tropical climate, or from spring to summer in temperate climates), with an organic fertilizer such as guano or cow manure.

If you have it in a pot, use liquid fertilizers so that the water can continue to be drained easily. The dose and frequency will be specified on the package.


Whether you want to move it to a larger pot or to the garden, you have to do it as soon as the dry season ends, before its leaves sprout again. If the weather is mild, do it in early spring.

How to plant a tropical almond tree in the garden?

The step by step to follow is as follows:

  1. First, make a planting hole of about 50 x 50 centimeters (although it is better if it is 1 x 1 meter).
  2. Then add a couple of buckets of water to it. This will help you to see if the soil has good drainage (something that you will know true if the earth begins to absorb the water at a good rate from the first moment) or if on the contrary you have to improve it (something that is done by digging a deeper hole and adding a layer of about 40-50 centimeters of expanded clay or gravel).
  3. Next, fill the hole a little with universal substrate or mulch mixed with 20-30% perlite.
  4. Then, remove the tree from the pot, and insert it into the hole. If it is high or low, remove or add dirt.
  5. Finally, finish filling and, if you want, you can water to moisten the new soil that you have added.

How to change it pot?

If you see the roots coming out of the drainage holes, or if it has been more than 3-4 years since the last change and the tree has taken up the entire pot, it is a good time to change it. It is done like this:

  1. First, a pot with holes in its base is chosen that measures about 5 centimeters in diameter and depth than the previous one.
  2. Afterwards, a layer of about 3 centimeters of expanded clay is added.
  3. Then, it is filled to a little less than half with a mixture of mulch or universal substrate mixed with 20-30% perlite or similar.
  4. The Terminalia catappa is then removed from its ‘old’ pot, and inserted into the new one. If it is too high, remove dirt; and if on the contrary it remains low, add more substrate.
  5. Lastly, finish filling, and give it a generous watering.


Image – Wikimedia/ Alejandro Bayer Tamayo from Armenia, Colombia

It multiplies by seeds and cuttings in spring.


The seeds must be sown in pots or seedling trays with mulch, putting a maximum of two in each one. Then, they are placed in semi-shade, near a heat source, and the substrate is kept moist.

In a period of about two months they will begin to germinate.


To multiply the tropical almond tree by cuttings you have to cut a branch of about 30 centimeters long, impregnate its base with rooting hormones and plant it in a pot with a substrate such as vermiculite.

If the substrate is kept moist, it will root in about a month.


Resists up to 5 degrees Celsius, and salinity.

What uses is it given?

The Terminalia catappa has several uses:


It is a very decorative plant, ideal to have as an isolated specimen or in alignments. It is also a nice tree to grow in pots, although not forever due to the large size it can reach.

When the winter weather is not good, it is used as a houseplant. In fact, in Spain it is common for it to be sold as such, as it could only be grown abroad in the Costa Tropical (Andalusia region, in the south of the Iberian Peninsula), in some parts of Malaga (also in Andalusia), as well in low altitude points of the Canary Islands.


The fruits are edible and can be eaten fresh or in desserts. Its flavor is somewhat acidic.


The leaves are used in Suriname (South America) to make tea infusions, which is said to help curb diarrhea and relieve dysentery.


The wood is used to make canoes. It is red and solid, and also resistant to water.

Where to buy Indian almond?

Image – Wikimedia/ H. Zell

You can buy seeds from here.

What did you think of this tree?

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