Terminalia catappa is Koh Chang’s Crown of Glory
Along the sandy coastal areas of Koh Chang such as the villages of Salak Phet, Salak Khok, Khlong Son and Khlong Phrao Bay, Terminalia catappa which are commonly known as tropical almond are the usual tree species one cannot ignore to notice. The fully grown Terminalia catappa offers great shade to beach swimmers and local fishers. Its almond fruits are normally eaten and enjoyed by children.
Terminalia catappa is regarded as a large, spreading tree that grows the height range of 15-25 meters tall. Its trunk grows as big as 1-1.5 meters in diameter. This tree species has a gray brown bark. Its leathery dark green leaves are expected to fall after they change color to yellow or red. Fruits come after flowering which normally occurs after 3 years of age. The green fruit is egg-shaped measuring approximately 2.5 x 3 to 6 centimeters long. It is hard, rounded and flattened which turns yellow when ripe. The edible seed of the fruit is enclosed by a fibrous husk. The tasty seed kernel can be eaten immediate after extraction. As a coastal tree, it is observed to be tolerant to strong winds and principally grows in freely drained, sandy and well aerated soils. Due to its large horizontal crown, this tree species is important for coastal communities.
Aside from shade and ornamental benefits that Terminalia catappa tree is known for, its fibrous root system is vital to coastline stabilization especially on sandy seashores. Its timber though not hard is useful for furniture making and other decorative purposes. Tropical almond is easy to propagate by seed. It is a fast growing tree and needs minimal maintenance and care in suitable planting environments. It has a vast natural distribution in India, Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea, northern Australia and South Pacific region which includes Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji. Some sights of Terminalia catappa are found also on the high archipelago of Polynesia and Micronesia.