Anatomical investigation of Terminalia chebula Retz.
Priyanka Ingle & Arvind Dhabe*
Botanical Survey of India, Western Regional Centre, Pune- 410001 (MS), India.
*Department of Botany, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad, 431004 (MS), India.
Retz. is a well-known species of family Combretaceae, commonly known as
Chebulic Myrobalan. It is an important medicinal plant from ancient period. Bark powder gargled in
water as a dentifrice is used to treat toothache and bleeding gums, as well as chronic ulcers and fruits
are common constituent of ‘
’ capable of imparting youthful vitality and receptivity of mind
and sense. Present paper deals with the morphology, anatomy and maceration studies of bark, wood,
petiole and leaves, the work has been carried out in order to characterize and standardize the species.
; anatomy; Combretaceae
Vol. 15, 2015. pp. 55-62
Retz. well-known species of
family Combretaceae is commonly known as
Chebulic Myrobalan and ‘
in Sanskrit. It is
an important plant in both, Indian as well as Korean
and Chinese traditional medicine (Lee
Bark powder is gargled in water as a dentifrice to
treat toothache and bleeding gums, as well as
chronic ulcers (Singh
2002). Fruits are common
constituent of ‘
’, capable of imparting
youthful vitality and receptivity of mind and sense
1990; Sharma 1995 and Kochhar 1998).
It is a major constituent in the Ayurvedic preparations
Abhayarishta, Abhayamodak, Haritakikhand,
Allopathy, it is used in astringent ointments. In
Unani system, it is used as a blood purifier. The
pulp of the fruit is given in piles, chronic diarrhoea,
dysentery, costiveness, flatulence, asthma, urinary
disorders, vomiting, hiccup, intestinal worms and
enlarged spleen and liver (Cheng 2002, Masoko &
Eloff 2007). Powder of the fruits is used in chronic
ulcers and wounds, carious teeth and bleeding
ulceration of the gums. Fruits are used for diabetes,
fever and anemia (Daniel 2005). Bark and fruits are
good cardiac tonic and laxative (Singh
’ is used in biliousness, hemorrhoids,
enlarged liver and other disorders. The kernel oil is
applied to hairs and to rheumatic swellings, mixed
with honey, fruit pulp is employed in ophthalmia
1998). Fruits are astringent (Masoko &
Eloff 2007). Finely powdered fruits are also used as
dentifrice and considered useful in various teeth
bleeding and ulceration of gums (Jain 1994 and
Sharma 1995). The fruits are valuable for tannins
and dyes. The wood is used for building purposes,
agricultural implements, ply-wood and in match box
industry. It is also grown as a shade tree (Joy
1998; Joshi 2002; Khare 2007 and Trivedi 2008), also
for cabinet work, furniture and interior fitting
(Sambamurty 2005). This plant is also used as fodder
(Anonymous 1909 and Kumar & Bhatt 2006).
Retz. occurs typically in dry
deciduous forests and favoring clay soil, up to 1450
m in southern India, 450 m in Central India, 200 m
in Western India, 500 m in North East India, 1500 m
in Himalaya and 1050 m in Myanmar. It is also
reported from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and
Materials and Methods
The plant parts were collected from the tree
planted in Milind College of Science, Aurangabad
(MS), Field no.7073, Latitude N 19o53'17'', Longitude
E 075o18' 79'', altitude 600 m. Transverse sections (T.
S.), tangential longitudinal sections (T. L. S.) and
radial longitudinal sections (R. L. S.) of wood,
transverse sections of bark, leaves and petioles were
taken by free hand method with the help of razors.
Sections were double stained and permanently
mounted. The bark, wood and leaves were macerated
by Jeffery’s method (Khandelwal 2006). Trichomes
were studied by scrapping. The dimensions were
measured and microphotographs were taken by
Motic Microscope with image processing software.
Observations and Results
Terminalia chebula Retz., Obs. 5: 31. 1789;
Roxb., Pl. Corom.: t. 197. 1805 & Hort. Beng.: 33.
1814 & Fl. Ind. 2: 433. 1832; DC., Prodr. 3: 12. 1828;
G. Don, Gen. Hist. 2: 659. 1832; Wight & Arn., Prodr.:
Date of Publication : December - 2015
PHYTOTAXONOMY VOL. 15, 201556
313. 1834; Miq., Fl. Ind. Bat. 1(1): 601. 1855; Thw.,
Enum. Pl. Zeyl. 2: 103. 1859; Bedd., Fl. Sylv. S. India
1: t. 27. 1869; Brandis, For. Fl. NW. India: 446. 1878
excl. var. parvifolia
(Thw.) Clarke; Trimen, Handb.
Fl. Ceylon 2: 159. 1894; Prain, Bengal Pl. 1:481. 1903;
Cooke, Fl. Bombay Pres. & Sind.1:336. 1903; Duthie,
Fl. Upper Gangetic Pl. 1. 336. 1903; Talbot, For. Fl.
Bombay Pres. & Sind. 2: 14. 1911; Parker, For. Fl.
Punjab, 239. 1918; Gamble, Fl. Pres. Madras 3: 464.
1919; Haines, Bot. Bihar & Orissa 3:352. 1922; Blatter
in J. Ind. Bot. 8: 253. 1929 (incl. formas); Kirtikar &
Basu, Indian Med. Pl. ed. 2, 2:1020, t. 413. 1035;
Kanjilal, Fl. Assam 2: 244. 1938; Gandhi in Saldanha
& Nicolson, Fl. Hassan: 294. 1976; Whitmore in
Enum. Fl. Pl. Nepal 2: 168. 1979; Deb., Fl. Tripura 1:
385. 1981; Matthew & Britto, Fl. Tamil Nadu Carnatic
2(1): 304. 1991.
(Retz.) Gaertn., Fruct. 2:
91, t. 97, f. 2(f-m). 1790.
Roth., Nov. Pl. Sp.: 381.
1821; DC., Prodr. 3:13. 1828,
Buch.-Ham., ex G. Don, Gen.
Hist. 2: 659. 1832.
Walp., Rep. 2: 61. 1843.
Heurck & Muell.-Arg., in
Heurck, Obs. Bot.: 220. 1971.
Kurz., in J. As. Soc.
Bengal 42(2): 80. 1873 & For. Fl. Brit. Burma 1:455.
Clarke, Fl. Brit. India 2: 446. 1878
Clarke, Fl. Brit. India 2: 446. 1878.
Combretum extensum sensu.
Prain, Bengal Pl.
Roxb. ex G. Don, 1827).
: Abhaya, Amoga, Amruta, Avaytha,
Balaya, Bhisha, Gvara, Bishakpriya, Haritaki,
Jivnika, Jivanti, Rasayanphala, Triphala,
Alae, Anile, Arale, Harade,
Karidha, Haritaki, Harida,
Halela, Har, Harrar, Hurh
Aridadi, Attam, Kaku, Kaddukkaai, Nechi, Seya
Haritaki, Karoka, Nallakaroka, Resaki.
Much branched trees 25–45 ft tall. Bark dark
brown or greyish to blackish, shallowly to deeply
fissured. Young branches densely pubescent,
branchlets terete, 3 – 8 mm thick with white, elongate
markings of lenticels. Leaves alternate or sub
opposite, ovate-elliptic or oblong-elliptic or ovate
to ovate-oblong, slightly curved, 10–25×4–14 cm.
Petioles densely pubescent, 3–5cm, two glands on
either side at or near the apex of the petioles, circular
or button shaped, sessile, up to 2 mm in diameter.
Dometia usually present 1 or 2, circular to oval,
1–2 mm at the junction of the petiole and lamina or
on the lamina blade. Leaf-base rounded, obtuse,
acute, acuminate; apex acute or acuminate, upper
surface chartaceous to coriaceous, rarely glabrous.
Lower surface grayish, tomentellous or villous, rarely
glabrous except midrib. Young leaves greenish-
brown, turn yellow after weathering. Midrib slightly
elevated above, raised beneath. Lateral nerves
6–10 pairs, sub-opposite, prominent above,
conspicuous, beneath and anastomosing near the
margin, tertiary nerves obscure scalariform or
sometimes reticulate. Inflorescence axillary and
terminal, simple, paniculate, 5–15cm long, villous to
sparsely puberulous. Bracts caducous, linear,
lanceolate, 5–7mm long, puberulous. Flowers
creamish-yellow, bisexual, diameter of open flower
3–4mm. Calyx tube 1.5 – 3× 1–1.5 mm, calyx lobes
usually 5 occasionally 6–9, triangular, puberulous.
Stamens usually 10 occasionally 12–18, 5–7 mm long,
anthers ellipsoid, yellowish orange, 0.7–1mm long,
filament whitish cream.Ovary green and red, 2–3 mm
long, oblong, lanceolate, style 3–5 mm long, slender,
white; stigma pointed. Fruits drupes, ellipsoid,
obovoid or ovoid, 3–6×2–3cm, 5 angled, golden
yellow to brownish yellow when dry, tender fruits
turn black when dry. (Photo plate- I)
Fl.: April-July; Fr.: June-December (persisting
over next year)
T. S. of bark revealed the cork 18–20 layered
thick, ruptured at places because of lenticels; cells
rectangular, tangentially elongated, squarish,
suberised, tanniniferous, with some inclusions and
large crystals. Cork cambium single layered; cells
rectangular and prominant. Periderm 4– 6 layered,
57ANATOMICAL INVESTIGATION OF
Photo Plate 1
Terminalia chebula Retz.
a. Flowering twig; b. Flower with more than 10 stamens; c. Flower; d. Calyx cup;
e. Bract; f. Stamen; g. Carpel; h. Fruits.
a. T. S. of bark; b. Fibre bundles and druces in rows; c. Stone cells; d. Druces;
e. Thin walled and thick walled parenchyma; f. Fibre; g. Sieve element with companion cell.
PHYTOTAXONOMY VOL. 15, 201558
cells rhomboid, squarish and brownish with crystals
and some inclusions. Cambium followed by uniform
cortex, cells squarish, circular, rhomboid, oblong,
polygonal, parenchymatous and compactly
arranged. Most of the cells filled with starch grains
and large circular brownish, blackish crystals.
Druses common in the cortex, 11.3 – 82.2 µm in
diameter. Rays uniseriate, continuous, cells filled
with tannin, compound crystals (druse), and starch
grains, cells squarish, rhomboid, polygonal,
rectangular and irregular. Patches of
sclerenchymatous fibres single, rarely two layered,
periodically arranged in a ring in a group of 2 – 17,
with small lumen. Fibres may be circular, oval, oblong,
rhomboid, polygonal and compressed, 9.0 – 25.5µm.
Stone cells few, single or in group of 2 – 5, triangular
to polygonal, randomly distributed after 4 – 15 layers
of cortex, 12.2 – 91.9 µm in diameter, with small to
Macerated bark showed two types of phloem
parenchyma i) thin walled-squarish, rhomboid,
rectangular, irregular or barrel-shaped 32.84×26.21 µm
in average and range 27.1– 46.1× 21.8 – 34.3 µm. ii)
thick walled- rhomboid, polygonal or irregular
45.0 × 33.83 µm in average and range 34.6 – 65.9 ×
23.3 – 51.9 µm. Fibres simple, irregular, slender,
irregularly swollen at places, 1280.82 × 28.64 µm in
average and range, 829.4 – 1542.7 × 19.1 – 36.9 µm.
Sieve elements are of two types- long and short,
end walls terminal or sub-terminal, highly oblique,
beaks short or long 639.92 × 63.34 µm in average
and range 495.1 – 820.5 × 87.1 – 41.6 µm. Companion
cell single, squarish or rhomboid and thick walled,
average 45.0 × 33.83 µm and range 34.6 – 65.9 × 23.3
– 51.9 µm (Photo Plate I).
T. S. of wood showed indistinct growth ring
boundries; wood diffuse porous; vessels in radial
multiple of 2 – 4 or more. Vessel elements 136.8 –
157.4 µm diameter. Tracheids few vasicentric. Ground
tissue fibres very thick walled with small lumen,
polygonal, rhomboidal. Axial parenchyma
paratracheal, winged-aliform. T.L.S. of wood showed
vessel elements 171.1 – 493.9 × 46.9 – 121.4 µm, end
wall oblique, pits on lateral wall vestured alternate,
perforation plates simple. Fibres thick, very long.
Rays mostly uniseriate, some bi-triseriate, squarish,
rectangular, rhomboid, 2–28 cells in height,
97.6 – 1133.8 µm in length, cells at the end tapering,
ray deposited with starch grains and tannin.
R.L.S. of wood showed heterogenus rays, cells
squarish, procumbent and upright, deposited with
starch grains. Vessel-ray pits much reduced border
to apparently simple, pit outline rounded (Photo
Macerated wood showed two types of xylem
parenchyma i) parenchyma with few pits: cells
rectangular, squarish or rhomboid, trigonal, thick
walled, cell wall interrupted, pits few circular or oval,
distributed along cell wall, 47.67 × 27.67 µm in
average and range 42.1 – 77.6 × 20.8 – 39.8 µm. ii)
parenchyma with many pits: cells rectangular,
squarish or rhomboid, pits alternate, with much
reduced borders to apparently simple, pit outline
rounded or oval, distributed throughout, cell wall
continuous, may wavy, average size 50.7 × 26.8 µm
and range 35.1 – 82.1 × 17.4 – 34.1 µm. Fibres are
of two types: i) fibres simple, slender, tapering and
sharply pointed, outline entire, average size 818.1 ×
21.79 µm and range 702.6 – 968.9 × 17.1 – 32.6 µm.
ii) fibres forked, slender, tapering and sharply
pointed, outline irregular 687.2 × 24.0 µm. Tracheids
slender, ends blunt or pointed, pits few, elongate, in
one-many rows, alternate, 356.4 × 20.9 µm in average
and range 276.4 – 492.8 × 16.8 – 23.8µm. Vessel
elements are of two types: i) vessel elements
broader, end walls horizontal with simple perforation,
lateral walls with vestured, bordered, alternate pits,
tails short, may present on both the ends, 333.1 ×
50.3 µm in average and range 245.7 – 365.8 × 29.4
– 71.0 µm. ii) vessel elements long, slender, tails at
one or both ends, end walls oblique shifted to lateral
side, perforation simple, lateral wall with scalariform
thickenings, average size 407.9 × 33.64 µm and range
345.6 – 712.6 × 21.4 – 45.2 µm (Photo Plate II).
T. S. of petiole showed hemispherical or oblong
outline. Epidermis is the outer most layer covered
with thin cuticle and combretaceous trichomes. Cells
of epidermis circular, oval, 5.6 – 12.2 × 9.1 – 12.0 µm.
Hypodermis single layered, composed of circular to
polygonal cells. Cortex differentiated into outer and
inner cortex. Outer cortex collenchymatous, 4 – 6
layered, cells poygonal, irregular and angular, 13.5
– 58.7 × 9.8 – 53.5 µm. Inner cortex 8 – 12 layered,
composed of large circular, polygonal or irregular,
59ANATOMICAL INVESTIGATION OF
Photo Plate 2
a. T. S. of wood; b. T. L. S. of wood; c. R. L. S. of wood; d-e. Parenchyma;
f-g. Fibres; h. Tracheid; i-k. Vessel elements.
PHYTOTAXONOMY VOL. 15, 201560
thin walled parenchymatous cells 25.0 – 82.1× 23.9
– 70.5 µm. Cortex followed by 3 – 5 layered,
sclerenchymatous patches of bundle sheath. Bundle
sheath cells polygonal and compactly arranged 6.7
– 28.6 × 4.2 – 12.1 µm, in patches. Endodermis single
layered composed of large polygonal cells, barrel
shaped or irregular. Pericycle 1– 2 layered in patches.
Vascular bundle conjoint bicollateral, open and
endarch. Peripheral phloem 4 – 6 layered, 3.7 – 15.0
× 3.0 – 10.0 µm, cells polygonal, squarish. Vascular
cambium 1 – 2 layered, cells rectangular. Metaxylem
circular to polygonal 3 – 5 layered 17.6 – 32.7× 16.8–
24.2 µm. Protoxylem circular to polygonal 12.2 – 15.9
× 9.9 – 14.5 µm. Inner phloem 10 – 15 layered, in
patches on adaxial surface. Pith parenchymatous,
cells large, polygonal. Two lateral vascular bundles,
conjoint, concentric, amphicribal and closed, situated
at the corners on eighter side towards adaxial surface.
Druses common in cortexand pith (Photo Plate III).
T. S. of the leaf showed typical dorsiventral
structure. The epidermis of both the surfaces single
Photo Plate 3
a. T. S. of petiole; b. T. S. of leaf through lamina; c. T. S. of leaf through midrib;
d. Upper epidermal cells; e. Lower epidermal cells; f. Trichomes.
layered, covered with thick cuticle. The cells of
upper epidermis composed of squarish, upright and
rectangular cells. The upper epidermal cells range
from 11.3 – 28.9 × 9.4 – 15.6 µm. Lower epidermal
cells rectangular, oval or circular, range from 8.6 –
14.5 × 6.0 – 13.3 µm. Epidermal cells at the midrib
region circular, oval or polygonal and smaller than
the lamina region. Upper epidermis followed by
vertically elongated, single layered palisade, 61.6 –
94.3 × 5.2 – 8.3 µm. Spongy mesophyll cells circular,
oval, polygonal and irregular, with wavy cell wall,
thin walled, loosely arranged, 13.8 – 23.3 × 8.3 –
19.3 µm, with inter cellular spaces. Some of the
mesophyll cells showed starch grains. Few
tanniniferous cells also reported from mesophyll
region. At the midrib region, epidermis followed by
single layered hypodermis, restricted to this region.
Cortex differentiated into inner and outer cortex.
Outer cortex 3 – 5 layered, poygonal or irregular,
angular collenchyma, 7.7 – 30.0 × 7.4 – 29.3 µm.
Inner cortex 4 – 8 layered, composed of large circular,
polygonal or irregular, thin walled parenchymatous
61ANATOMICAL INVESTIGATION OF
cells 13.4 – 59.2 × 9.8 – 50.2 µm. Rhytidomes single
layered present between collenchyma and
sclerenchyma of the cortex on adaxial side at midrib
region only. Cortex followed by 3 – 5 layered
sclerenchymatous bundle sheath. Bundle sheath
cells circular, oval, polygonal and compactly
arranged 6.7–28.6×4.2–12.1µm, contineous on abaxial
side and in patches on adaxial side. Endodermis
single layered, cells ovate, oval or circular, elongate,
elliptic – oblong, casparianl strips inconspicuous.
Pericycle 1–2 layered, cells polygonal, circular or
oval. The main vascular bundle conjoint, bicollateral,
open and endarch. Peripheral phloem 12 – 15 layered
cells squarish, rectangular and polygonal 3.9 – 15.4
× 3.5 – 9.5 µm. Metaxylem circular to polygonal, 2
– 4 layered, facing towards periphery, 17.6 – 32.7 ×
16.8 – 24.2 µm, protoxylem circular to polygonal,
situated towards center 12.2 – 15.9 × 9.9 – 14.5 µm.
Protoxylem followed by irregular, 5 – 8 layered
patches of phloem, present only on adaxial surface.
Pith composed of parenchyma. Lateral vascular
bundles 4, 2 very small, 2 on eihter side situated
towards upper epidermis, conjoint, concentric,
closed, phloem surrounded by xylem which is
enveloped by phloem. Vascular bundles of the
smaller vein vertically transcurrent by thin walled
large circular to polygonal parenchymatous tissue.
The vascular bundles conjoint, collateral and closed.
The druces more common in the cortex, phloem and
pith (Photo Plate III).
Leaves showed presence of simple, unicellular
Combretaceous trichomes, with bulbous base,
average length, 749.22 µm and range 154.3 to 1120.3
µm. Trichomes present on both the surfaces, but
however, they are more common on lower surface.
Stomata anomocytic (Ranunculaceous),
hypostomatic, pore length 12.96 µm in average and
range 10.2 to 19 µm. The average size of guard cell,
22.91 × 6 µm and range 20.1 – 26.9 × 4.6 – 7.4 µm.
Upper epidermal cells slightly larger (the average
cell size 38.78 × 17.95 µm and range 27.6 – 52.7 ×
23.6 – 36.2 µm) than lower epidermal cells (the
average cell size 27.73 × 18.15 µm and range 20.3 –
38.9 × 14.8 – 21.8 µm). Upper epidermal cells are
wavy in outline than lower epidermal cells, both the
cells irregular in shape. Mean stomatal number for
lower epidermis 14.9 and range 9 – 20. Stomatal
index for lower epidermis in average 10.40 and range
7.14 – 12.99. Palisade ratio in average 6.75 and range
4.5 – 8.5. Vein islet number in average 10.2 and range
8 – 12. Veinlet termination number average 12.4 and
range 8 – 14 (Photo Plate III).
Drupes ellipsoid, obovoid or ovoid, 5- angled,
golden to brownish-yellow when dry. Stone cells
are single or in group of 2-5, long and short sieve
elements in bark. Axial parenchyma is paratracheal,
winged-aliform, rays mostly uniseriate, some bi-
seriate, vessel elements are of two types, broader
vessel elements with simple, alternate pits and longer
vessel elements with scalariform pits in wood. The
main vascular bundle conjoint, bi-collateral, open
and endarch. Vascular bundles of smaller vains,
vertically transcurrent by thin walled, large, circular
to polygonal parenchymatous tissue. Trichomes
simple, unicellular, Combretaceous and stomata
anomocytic (Ranunculaceous), hypostomatic these
morphological, anatomical and dermatological
parameters were found to be diagnostic features of
Retz. which may be useful in
characterization and standardization of the species.
Authors are thankful to Professor & Head,
Department of Botany, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar
Marathwada University, Aurangabad, Maharashtra,
for providing laboratory facilities and enthusiasm
for undertaking research.
Anonymous. 1909. Myrobalans (
Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information
Bose, T. K., Das, P. & Maiti, G. G. 1998.
Trees of the World
Regional Resource Center, Bhuvaneshwar, Orissa, India,
Cheng, H. Y., Lin, C. C. & Lin, T. C. 2002. Antiherpes
simplex virus type 2 activity of casuarinin from the
Danial, M. 2005.
Medicinal Plants, Chemistry and
. Oxford and IBH Company Publishing
Company Private Limited, New Delhi, 184-185.
Gangopadhyay, M. & Chakrabarty, T. 1997. The Family
Combretaceae of Indian Sub-Continent.
J. econ. Taxon.
Joshi, S. G., 2002.
. Oxford and IBH
Company Publishing Limited, New Delhi, 141-146.
Joy, P. P., Thomas J., Mathew, A. and Sakira, P., 1998.
PHYTOTAXONOMY VOL. 15, 201562
Kerala Agriculture University, 76.
Khare, C. P. 2007.
Indian Medicinal Plants- an illustrated
, Springer- Verlag Berlin/Heidelburg, 651-656.
Kochhar, S. L. 1998.
Economic Botany in the Tropics
2. Macmillan India Limited.
Kumar, M. & Bhatt, V. 2006. Plant Biodiversity and
Conservation of Forests in Foot Hills of Garhwal
Lyonia, a J. Ecology & Application
Lee, S. H., Ryu, S. Y., Choi, S. U., Lee, C. O., Kim, S. K.
& Ahn, J. W. 1995. Hydrolyzable tannins and related
compounds having cytotoxic activity from the fruits
Archives of Pharmaceutical
Masoko, P. & Eloff, J. N. 2007. Screening of twenty-four
(Combretaceae) for antioxidant activities.
Trad. Med. CAM
Reddy, R. C. V., Ramana Kumari, S. V., Reddy, M. B., Azeem,
M. A., Prabhakar, M. C. & Appa Rao, A. V. N. 1990.
Cardiotonic activity of fruits of
Sambamurty, A. V. S. S. 2005.
Taxonomy of Angiosperms
I. K. International Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi, 366-371.
Sharma, K. 1995. First report on the propagation of
Retz. through patch budding.
Singh, B. H., Prasad P. & Rai L. K., 2002. Folk Medicinal
Plants in the Sikkim Himalayas of India.
Singh, M. P., Malla, S. B., Rajbhandari S. B. & Manandhar
A. 1979. Medicinal Plants of Nepal-Retrospect’s and
Trivedi, K. P. 2008.