Terminalia chebula

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Terminalia chebula
A leafless T. chebula tree
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Myrtales
Family: Combretaceae
Genus: Terminalia
T. chebula
Binomial name
Terminalia chebula
  • Buceras chebula (Retz.) Lyons
  • Combretum argyrophyllum K.Schum.
  • Myrobalanus chebula (Retz.) Gaertn.
  • Myrobalanus gangetica (Roxb.) Kostel.
  • Myrobalanus tomentella Kuntze
  • Terminalia acutae Walp.
  • Terminalia argyrophylla King & Prain
  • Terminalia gangetica Roxb.
  • Terminalia glandulipetiolata De Wild.
  • Terminalia parviflora Thwaites
  • Terminalia reticulata Roth
  • Terminalia tomentella Kurz
  • Terminalia zeylanica Van Heurck & Müll. Arg.

Terminalia chebula, commonly known as black- or chebulic myrobalan,[3] is a species of Terminalia, native to South Asia from Pakistan, India and Nepal east to southwest China (Yunnan), and south to Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Vietnam.[3][4]


Swedish naturalist Anders Jahan Retzius described the species in Observ. Bot. 5: 31 in 1788.[1]

Many varieties are known, such as:[4]

  • T. c. var. chebula – leaves and shoots hairless, or only hairy when very young
  • T. c. var. tomentella – leaves and shoots silvery to orange hairy


Haritaki (Terminalia chebula) fruits

Terminalia chebula is a medium to large deciduous tree growing to 30 m (98 ft) tall, with a trunk up to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) in diameter. The leaves are alternate to subopposite in arrangement, oval, 7–8 cm (2.8–3.1 in) long and 4.5–10 cm (1.8–3.9 in) broad with a 1–3 cm (0.39–1.18 in) petiole.[4] They have an acute tip, cordate at the base, margins entire, glabrous above with a yellowish pubescence below.[citation needed] The fruit is drupe-like, 2–4.5 cm (0.79–1.77 in) long and 1.2–2.5 cm (0.47–0.98 in) broad, blackish, with five longitudinal ridges.[4] The dull white to yellow flowers are monoecious, and have a strong, unpleasant odour. They are borne in terminal spikes or short panicles. The fruits are smooth ellipsoid to ovoid drupes, yellow to orange-brown in colour, with a single angled stone.[5]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Terminalia chebula Is found throughout southern and southeast Asia including in India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand. In China, it is native in western Yunnan and cultivated in Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi (Nanning), and Taiwan (Nantou).[6][7]

In India, it is found in the sub Himalayan region from Ravi, eastwards to western Bengal and Assam, ascending up to the altitude of 1,500 m (4,900 ft) in the Himalayas. This tree is wild in forests of northern India, central provinces and Bengal, common in Madras, Mysore and in the southern part of the Bombay presidency.[8]

Its habitat includes dry slopes up to 900 m (3,000 ft) in elevation.[9]

Cultivation and uses[edit]

T. chebula

This tree yields smallish, ribbed and nut-like fruits which are picked when still green and then pickled, boiled with a little added sugar in their own syrup or used in preserves. The seed of the fruit, which has an elliptical shape, is an abrasive seed enveloped by a fleshy and firm pulp. Seven types of fruit are recognized (vijaya, rohini, putana, amrita, abhaya, jivanti, and chetaki), based on the region where the fruit is harvested, as well as the colour and shape of the fruit. Generally speaking, the vijaya variety is preferred, which is traditionally grown in the Vindhya Range of west-central India, and has a roundish as opposed to a more angular shape.[9] The fruit also provides material for tanning leather and dyeing cloth.[7]

Terminalia chebula (called Haritaki,[5]) is a main ingredient in the Ayurvedic formulation of Triphala.[10]

Chemical composition[edit]

A number of glycosides have been isolated from haritaki, including the triterpenes arjunglucoside I, arjungenin, and the chebulosides I and II. Other constituents include a coumarin conjugated with gallic acids called chebulin, as well as other phenolic compounds including ellagic acid, 2,4-chebulyl-β-D-glucopyranose, chebulinic acid, gallic acid, ethyl gallate, punicalagin, terflavin A, terchebin, luteolin, and tannic acid.[9][11] Chebulic acid is a phenolic acid compound isolated from the ripe fruits.[12][13] Luteic acid can be isolated from the bark.[14]

Terminalia chebula also contains terflavin B, a type of tannin, while chebulinic acid is found in the fruits.[15]

The fruit extracts of Terminalia chebula also have antibacterial activity.[16]



  1. ^ a b "Terminalia chebula Retz. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science". Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  2. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Terminalia chebula Retz". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 6 Aug 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d Flora of China: Terminalia chebula
  5. ^ a b "The Ayurvedic Herb that Supports Immune & Gut Health". Dr. Axe. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  6. ^ "Terminalia chebula".
  7. ^ a b "Terminalia chebula". efloras.org.
  8. ^ Bag, Anwesa; Bhattacharyya, Subir Kumar; Chattopadhyay, Rabi Ranjan (2013). "The development of Terminalia chebula Retz. (Combretaceae) in clinical research". Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. 3 (3): 244–252. doi:10.1016/S2221-1691(13)60059-3. PMC 3631759. PMID 23620847.
  9. ^ a b c "Todd Caldecott | Haritaki". Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2014-05-18.
  10. ^ Tewari, D; Mocan, A; Parvanov, E. D; Sah, A. N; Nabavi, S. M; Huminiecki, L; Ma, Z. F; Lee, Y. Y; Horbańczuk, J. O; Atanasov, A. G (2017). "Ethnopharmacological Approaches for Therapy of Jaundice: Part II. Highly Used Plant Species from Acanthaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Asteraceae, Combretaceae, and Fabaceae Families". Frontiers in Pharmacology. 8: 519. doi:10.3389/fphar.2017.00519. PMC 5554347. PMID 28848436.
  11. ^ Saleem, A.; Husheem, M.; Härkönen, P.; Pihlaja, K. (2002). "Inhibition of cancer cell growth by crude extract and the phenolics of Terminalia chebula retz. Fruit". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 81 (3): 327–336. doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(02)00099-5. PMID 12127233.
  12. ^ Lee, H. S.; Jung, S. H.; Yun, B. S.; Lee, K. W. (2007). "Isolation of chebulic acid from Terminalia chebula Retz. And its antioxidant effect in isolated rat hepatocytes". Archives of Toxicology. 81 (3): 211–218. doi:10.1007/s00204-006-0139-4. PMID 16932919. S2CID 25751621.
  13. ^ Lee, H. S.; Koo, Y. C.; Suh, H. J.; Kim, K. Y.; Lee, K. W. (2010). "Preventive effects of chebulic acid isolated from Terminalia chebula on advanced glycation endproduct-induced endothelial cell dysfunction". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 131 (3): 567–574. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2010.07.039. PMID 20659546.
  14. ^ Nierenstein, M.; Potter, J. (1945). "The distribution of myrobalanitannin". The Biochemical Journal. 39 (5): 390–392. doi:10.1042/bj0390390. PMC 1258254. PMID 16747927.
  15. ^ Han, Quanbin; Song, Jingzheng; Qiao, Chunfeng; Wong, Lina; Xu, Hongxi (2006). "Preparative isolation of hydrolysable tannins chebulagic acid and chebulinic acid from Terminalia chebula by high-speed counter-current chromatography" (PDF). J. Sep. Sci. 29 (11): 1653–1657. doi:10.1002/jssc.200600089. PMID 16922284.
  16. ^ Prathibha, S.; Jenitta, E.P.E.; Rama Bhat, P.; Jayadev, K.; Shetty, Shrinidhi (2015). "Green synthesis of silver nanoparticles from fruit extracts of Terminalia chebula Retz. and their antibacterial activity". International Journal of Research in Biosciences. 4 (2): 29-35.