Terminalia chebula; Aralu; අරළු
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.They have an acute tip, cordate at the base, margins entire, glabrous above with a yellowish pubescence below. 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.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.
Terminalia chebula Is found throughout South 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 W Yunnan and cultivated in Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi (Nanning), and Taiwan (Nantou).
In India, it is found in the Sub Himalayan region from Ravi eastwards to West 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.
Its habitat includes dry slopes up to 900 m (3,000 ft) in elevation
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.The fruit also provides material for tanning leather and dyeing cloth.
Terminalia chebula is a main ingredient in the Ayurvedic formulation Triphala which is used for kidney and liver dysfunctions.The dried fruit is also used in Ayurveda as a purported antitussive, cardiotonic, homeostatic, diuretic, and laxative.
Terminalia chebula is part of the catalog of ayurvedic medicinal plants of Sri Lanka.