Distribution of Combretaceae:
Combretaceae or Combretum family or Terminalia family includes 18 genera and 500 species. The largest genera are Combretum of 370 species and Terminalia of 200 species.
Economic Importance of Combretaceae:
- Food: The fruits of Terminalia catappa – Indian almond H. Jungali badam are edible.
- Medicinal: Terminalia is the most important medicinal plant. The bark of Terminalia arjuna is used as cardiac tonic; and in feminine diseases T. tomentosa, T. paniculata, T. angustifolia, T. coricea, and T. glabra are some others useful species. Most of them are astringent and administered as purgative, as also in dropsy, diarrhoea, piles, leprosy and cough. The fruits of T. bellirica (H. Bahera) and T. Chebula (H. Harach) are of medicinal value.
- Gum: The fruits of T. bellirica constitute one of the myrobalans (an adhesive) of commerce. The gum exuding from the trunk of Anogeissus latifolia is used in cali coprinting, paper-sizing and confectionery.
- Timber: The wood obtained from T. bialata and T. belerica is used for cabinet work furniture and interior fittings.
- Tannin: The young fruits of T. alata, T. arjuna, T. chebule, etc. are used for tanning and dyeing.
- Ornamental: Quisqualis indica (Rangoon creeper), Terminalia arjuna (Arjun), Bucida, Combretum are of ornamental value.
Affinities of Combretaceae:
Bentham and Hooker and also Hutchinson placed the family in Myrtales. While Engler has included in the sub-order Myrtinae of Myrtiflorae. Takhtajan, Cronquist and Thorne also placed Combretaceae under Myrtales. The Combretaceae shows resemblance with Rhizophoraceae in having inferior ovary. It also resemblances Myrtaceae in its inferior ovary, calyx and corolla.