Terminalia elliptica

Terminalia elliptica
T. elliptica tree found in Panchkhal Valley
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Myrtales
Family: Combretaceae
Genus: Terminalia
Species: T. elliptica
Binomial name
Terminalia elliptica

Terminalia elliptica (syn. T. alata Heyne ex Roth, T. tomentosa (Roxb.) Wight & Arn.) is a species of Terminalia native to southern and southeast Asia in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.,[1][2] It is a prominent part of both dry and moist deciduous forests in southern India up to 1000 m.

Common names are Asna, Saj or Saaj, Indian-laurel,Matti (Kannada), Taukkyan (Burma), Sadar, Matti or Marda (India), අසන - Asana (Sri Lanka), and casually "crocodile bark" due to the characteristic bark pattern.

It is a tree growing to 30 m tall, with a trunk diameter of 1 m. The fruit is ovoid, 3 cm long, with five wings not extending beyond the fruit apex.[3] The bark is fire-resistant. The wood is coarse, fairly straight grained, dull to somewhat lustrous and without any smell or taste. The heartwood varies from light brown with few markings to dark brown or brownish black and figured with darker streaks. The sapwood is reddish white and sharply differentiated. The heartwood is moderately durable and the sapwood is liable to powder-post beetle attack.[4]

Terminalia tomentosa has a remarkable attribute: some members of the species store water in the dry season. A survey conducted at Bandipur National Park, India showed that a proportion of trees store water and there is a girth dependent increase in the frequency and amount of water storage. The mechanism and ecophysiological significance of this water storage is not known.[5]

Water storage in T. elliptica


The wood is used for furniture, cabinetwork, joinery, paneling, specialty items, boat-building, railroad cross-ties (treated), and decorative veneers.

The leaves are used as food by Antheraea paphia (silkworms) which produce the tassar silk (Tussah), a form of commercially important wild silk.[1][6] The bark is used medicinally against diarrhoea. Oxalic acid can be extracted from it. The bark and especially the fruit yield pyrogallol and catechol to dye and tan leather.

Water stored in the stem is often tapped and used as a source of potable water in the summer by forest folk. It is also thought to have curative value for stomach pain.

Outside of its native range, it is cultivated in southern China.[3]

In Culture

In Theravada Buddhism, this tree is said to have used as the tree for achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi by twenteeth Lord Buddha called "Tissa - තිස්ස". But in some text books, it is stated that Azadirachta indica is the Bodhi tree used by Tissa Lord Buddha.

See also

List of Indian timber trees


  1. 1 2 Germplasm Resources Information Network: Terminalia elliptica
  2. Sal and Saaj Deforestation in West Nepal: "Terminalia Tomentosa"
  3. 1 2 Flora of China: Terminalia
  4. Wood Technical Fact Sheet: Terminalia tomentosa complex
  5. Current Science, "Water Storage in Terminalia tomentosa"
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