Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Tropical Almond Tree
Terminalia catappa

Family: Combretaceae
Genus: Terminalia (ter-min-NAY-lee-uh) (Info)
Species: catappa (kuh-TAP-uh) (Info)

10 members have or want this plant for trade.


30-40 ft. (9-12 m)
over 40 ft. (12 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors
Scarify seed before sowing

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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By Dinu
Thumbnail #1 of Terminalia catappa by Dinu

By Dinu
Thumbnail #2 of Terminalia catappa by Dinu

By Chamma
Thumbnail #3 of Terminalia catappa by Chamma

By Chamma
Thumbnail #4 of Terminalia catappa by Chamma

By Chamma
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By Chamma
Thumbnail #6 of Terminalia catappa by Chamma

By Chamma
Thumbnail #7 of Terminalia catappa by Chamma

There are a total of 21 photos.
Click here to view them all!


8 positives
2 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive iguanamom On Sep 15, 2011, iguanamom from Hill Country Village, TX wrote:

For those of you wanting to know how to propigate the seed, here's my $0.02. I brought back this seed from Belize. Actually two of them. The one that ended up sprouting last weekend i had found in my backpack a week or two after the trip and it had seriously started to ripen. I took a machete to it to try and get the outter shell off and tried to make a notch in the actual seed so i could germinate it. i think i was took a while to get through the outter shell though. i then put it in a cup of water and sat it outside. The baby grackels kept trying to eat the seed so they'd knock over the cup and i'd keep refilling it (Live in S. Tx.). After maybe a week, the seed was all nasty looking and i stuffed it in a pot I had, just to see what would happen. Well, low and behold, 3 months later, a fat ol sprout appeared. it looked like it was gonna be something huge. For the life of me I couldn't remember what it was. I was hoping for a mango tree. But the two little leaves finally unfolded and I then remembered it was the Sea Almond! I'm so happy! I don't plan on planting it in the yard since it gets too big, but am looking forward to having it in the pot. This way I can also bring it inside when it gets too cold here.

Positive galesd On Dec 2, 2010, galesd from San Diego, CA wrote:

I love this tree and would like to grow it from seeds I collected after the green outer covering had worn off. Do I need to remove the husk and just plant the seed itself?

Positive FlKeysRedneck On Jun 2, 2010, FlKeysRedneck from Key Largo, FL wrote:

I love this tree. It gives that exotic tropical feel here in the Fl Keys. It stays green until we get a winter cold snap dropping the temp below 50 degrees.Once that happens the tree turns a brilliant red, drops all it's leaves in a matter of weeks and then puts out new growth again.
It is considered an invasive species but I haven't seen many problems around here in those regards. The squirrels LOVE the almonds and you often find the tree sprouting in the strangest places. I have not had success at digging up even young specimens and getting them to survive due to it's taproot. I didn't have success at germinating the seeds either but now see they have to be scarified and they are not recalcitrant. Will try again when the trees produce later this year. This past winter we had unprecedented period of extended record cold here in the Florida Keys. We didn't have a frost or freeze. 35 degrees was the lowest temp two mornings in a row I had here in Key Largo. All the premature almonds dropped. Some trees even had branch die back at the terminal ends and the end branches died. Some trees like my neighbors did just fine. As of present all the tropical almond trees that were damaged from last winters cold have made a rapid regrowth from various points on the branches and will have full canopies again by mid summer due to their rapid growth.
I was surprised to read it growing as far north as central Fl that is subjected to frost and freezing temperatures.

Positive themitchellfarm On Jan 23, 2010, themitchellfarm from Clayton, AL wrote:

I have been really getting into collecting SEA BEANS. I find these seeds along the beach in South Florida. I find ALOT of them. According to articles I have read, I can plant this seed and it will grow. I cant wait to try it. I will post another comment when I get myself a tree from one of the seeds. I cant wait to try a recipe!

Positive jimmyboyo1 On Jan 25, 2009, jimmyboyo1 from Woodbridge, VA wrote:

The Indian Almond/ Sea Almond grows up to 115 ft tall . Its natural environment is along beaches much like a coconut palm it can grow right up to and into the tidal area. Extremly salt and maritime wind tolerant.

There are some with larger amounts of flesh/ tastier and India is working on improving it for domestication. The kernel is COMPLETLY edible raw and or roasted, and has been part of local diets for millenia. RAW it has a taste similar to almond , thus the name, but is in no way related to almond. It is NOT poisonous at all the seed kernel are sold everywhere to be eaten in its natural environment.

The leaves = 1 leaf per 50 gallons of water in fish tanks/ aquaculture improves fish survival

It has been used medicinaly for millenia. the leaves have even been used as a plate by natives for millenia.

Fast growing tree 6.6 ft a yr, and is native to beach areas.

Positive robcorreia On Apr 24, 2008, robcorreia from San Diego, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

This tree is absolutely gorgeous. It is to many the classic Rio de Janeiro tree. I really wish I could grow one in my garden!

Positive tmccullo On Jul 28, 2006, tmccullo from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Growing on in a pot here in Houston, Texas. Believe it or not, we found the seed on a beach and planted it. It took us two years to find out what it was through a friend in Cuba. The tree is now about 8 foot tall. We keep it in doors on cold nights because it seem very sensative to the cold.

Negative NativePlantFan9 On Dec 24, 2004, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Tropical Almond or West Indian Almond (Terminalia catappa) is very popular as a large landscape tree around homes and in parks in coastal areas in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide but is very invasive in many of those areas, including coastal central and southern Florida through the Keys, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Hawaii and other tropical and subtropical areas. It forms huge thickets of large, tall trees with spreading large leaves and branches, crowding out and not allowing the growth of native vegetation. It is listed as a pest in many tropical areas such as in Hawaii and is on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council's Pest Plant List Category Two for it's large possibility to spread rapidly in central and southern Florida in mangrove swamps, coastal habitats and disturbed areas both near the coasts and inland and in salty coastal areas and along canals and swamps and marshes. It regularily escapes from cultivation here in central and southern Florida and starts to crowd out surrounding native vegetation. However, it is still a popular landscape tree due to large attractive leaves, branches and tropical appearance here in central and southern Florida as well as throughout tropical and subtropical regions worldwide! It is salt-tolerant and grows very well in coastal areas and around human habitation, and is very common in mangrove swamps. It grows up to a large tree from 25 to 30, 40, and 45 feet and typically taller, including here in central and southern Florida, from zone 9b southward. Here in Florida, it grows well in coastal areas, salty coastal areas and disturbed areas both inland and coastal, and is very commonly seen as a landscape tree along canals in the southern part of the state, such as in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin and sometimes Saint Lucie counties as well as a lanscape tree along both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of central and southern Florida and is also very common in the Keys. However, it also very invasive in central and southern Florida through the Keys and often invades natural habitats near the coasts such as mangrove swamps and natural habitats along canals and waterways. I have seen it especially invasive on the southwest and southeast coasts from Tampa Bay and Broward and Miami-Dade counties southward! Because of this, despite it's attractive appearance as a tropical or subtropical landscape tree or large shrub in coastal areas, here in central and southern Florida, please DO NOT PLANT THIS PLANT!

MORE FACTS - This tree is very common as a landscape tree or plant growing wild in the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Hawaii and areas in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and probably parts of Africa, Asia and Australia near the coasts. It grows up to 50 feet tall in those areas. It has large, rounded leaves that are short to longish and somewhat oval-shaped, like a spoon. It has whitish flowers in a cluster very similar to that of Coccoloba uvifera, the Sea Grape, but slightly different. The leaves distinguish this species from Coccoloba uvifera, the Sea Grape, which grows in many of the same tropical and subtropical coastal habitats as Tropical Almond, this species. This species is salt-tolerant. It is a large shrub to large tree. It is invasive in the Caribbean, central and southern Florida, the Bahamas and other areas.

Positive ronny828 On Nov 15, 2003, ronny828 wrote:

This plant is amazing - I don't just have this plant in my yard, but I use it for Betta Fish because of its amazing pH level balance. I recommend it to anyone that has Betta.

Negative Monocromatico On Jul 23, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

It became forbidden to plant this tree here in Rio de Janeiro because of its invasiveness. It can be seen confortably living in forests and beaches, places where it shouldnt be. Definetly one of the most favorites for shades, but propagates too easy by seeds. Very bad for the native vegetation.

Edit: I have to do justice to it and add more information about the fruits. There are two kinds of fruits, produced in different trees: the pink colored inside, and yellow ones. The pink ones are bitter, impossible to eat even if completely ripe. The yellow ones are sweet, and have a good taste. Either way, theres little to eat of this fibrous fruit, and in both cases, a very tasty and nutritious almond is held inside.

Neutral Chamma On Apr 4, 2003, Chamma from Tennille, GA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This tree is wonderful for giving is a fast grower but it can be messy in autumn and winter when all the leaves fall off! The fruits will stain clothes and pavement!

Neutral Dinu On Mar 12, 2003, Dinu from Mysore
India (Zone 10a) wrote:

This is a small to medium-sized tree with whorled horizontal branches and large obovate, dark green leaves. The flowers are axillary and occur in slender spikes. The fruit is flattened or compressed and narrowly winged. The leaves often turn red before falling. Bats and other birds feed on its fleshy red fruits, leaving the highly fibrous/nutty shell containing the slender edible almond seed.

In Taiwan the fallen leaves are used as a herbal drug in the treatment of liver related diseases. The leaves contain agents for chemo-prevention of cancer and probably have anticarciogenic potential, anticlastogenic effect due to their antioxidant properties. Tropical almond is also used by breeders of tropical aquarium fishes to keep them healthy. It is of invaluable ornamental use and provides excellent shade. The tree in our property is about 70 yrs old.

The leaves fall during March and September. In March, the tree is left bald. In September/October, before the bottom leaves fall, the top (which is the first to fall) already shows new growth and the light green and red make a lovely combination for a few days during this time.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Bradenton, Florida
Islamorada, Florida
Key Largo, Florida
Mango, Florida
Merritt Island, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Satellite Beach, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Kurtistown, Hawaii
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Houston, Texas

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