Tropical almond (Terminalia catappa) is a large, spreading tree now distributed throughout the tropics in coastal environments. The tree is tolerant of strong winds, salt spray, and moderately high salinity in the root zone. It grows principally in freely drained, well aerated, sandy soils.
The species has traditionally been very important for coastal communities, providing a wide range of non-wood products and services. It has a spreading, fibrous root system and plays a vital role in coastline stabilization. It is widely planted throughout the tropics, especially along sandy seashores, for shade, ornamental purposes, and edible nuts. The timber makes a useful and decorative general-purpose hardwood and is well suited for conversion into furniture and interior building timbers. Fruits are produced from about 3 years of age, and the nutritious, tasty seed kernels may be eaten immediately after extraction.
Tropical almond is easily propagated from seed, and is fast growing and flourishes with minimal maintenance in suitable environments. Selected cultivars of the species warrant wider commercial planting for joint production of timber and nuts. The tree has a demonstrated potential to naturalize in coastal plant communities, but not to adversely dominate such communities.
The productivity and marketing of cultivars with large and/ or soft-shelled nuts needs to be assessed. There is also a need for experimental work to develop vegetative propagation techniques and more efficient techniques for processing fully mature fruits including drying, storage, and cracking of nuts.