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Asna (Terminalia elliptica)


Click on the "Nutritional aspects" tab for recommendations for ruminants, pigs, poultry, rabbits, horses, fish and crustaceans
Common names 

Asna, saj, saaj, taukkyan, black murdah, crocodile-bark tree, Indian laurel, silver grey wood, white chuglam [English]; asan [Bengali] : સાદડ sadad [Gujarati]; असना or आसन asana; साज saj [Hindi]; ಕರಿಮತ್ತಿ karimatti [Kannada]; अयन or आईन or ऐन ain, असण or असणा asan, साताडा satada, शार्दूल or शार्दूळ shardul [Marathi]; sahaju [Oriya]; रक्तअर्जुन raktarjun [Sanskrit]; அருச்சுனம் aruccunam, கருமருது karumarutu, மருதமரம் marutamaram [Tamil]; ఇనుమద్ది innu maddi, చండ్ర మద్ది nalla maddi [Telugu]


Terminalia tomentosa Wight & Arn.; Pentaptera tomentosa Roxb. ex DC.; Terminalia alata Heyne ex Roth; Terminalia coriacea Wight & Arn.; Terminalia crenulata Heyne ex Roth; Terminalia tomentosa (Roxb. ex DC.) Wight & Arn.

Taxonomic information 

Terminalia elliptica is often referred to Terminalia tomentosa in the scientific literature, notably in papers about its use as a primary host of the tasar silkworm Antheraea mylitta..


Asna (Terminalia elliptica Willd.) is a medium to large deciduous tree native to southern and southeast Asia. It is mainly used as a valuable timber and for its ethnomedicinal properties. It is lopped for livestock feeding in India and Nepal, and is one of the main host for the tasar silkworm Antheraea mylitta, an economically important producer of wild silk in several states of India.


Terminalia elliptica is a medium-sized to fairly large deciduous tree, deeply taprooted that can reach 20-30 (-35) m of height with a bole up to 200 cm in diameter. The bark is rough, deeply fissured, 15-20 mm thick, grey-black in colour. The leaves are simple, opposite to subopposite, borne on 10-20 mm long petiole. The leaf blade is glabrous above and woolly beneath, coriaceous, 13-20 x 5-13 cm, oblong to elliptic-ovate in shape; base oblique, acute at the apex. The flowers are bisexual, dull yellow, 2-3 mm across, without petals, and borne in terminal and axillary paniculate spikes. The fruit a drupe 3.5 x 5.5 cm, longitudinally 5-winged, glabrous, containing one seed (IBP, 2021). Terminalia elliptica can be confused with the similar-looking arjuna Terminalia arjuna (Roxb. ex DC.) Wight & Arn. but their bark and fruits are different: the bark of T. elliptica is deeply fissured while that of T. arjuna is almost smooth; the fruits of T. elliptica are winged and papery with straight marks while those of T. arjuna are woody with wing lines curved upwards (e-Flora of India, 2021).


Terminalia elliptica is lopped for livestock feeding in India and Nepal (Negi, 1977). It is a primary host for the tasar silkworm Antheraea mylitta Drury, a wild sericigenous insect that produces highly economically important silk in several Indian states, notably Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal (Bhatia et al., 2014).

Terminalia elliptica has many other uses. Its reddish sap is used for making cosmetics and incense. It provides a coarse valuable timber used for furniture, cabinetwork, joinery, paneling, specialty items, boat-building, railroad cross-ties and decorative veneers. The tree yields valuable tannins such as pyrogallol and catechol which are used to dye and to tan leather but also as photographic developers and, for catechol, in the production of pharmaceuticals. It has a large usage in ethnomedicine (Fern, 2019). It is possible to tap the trunk for the potable water stored in it, which is thought to have curative value for stomach pain (Gaire, 2020).


Terminalia elliptica is native to South and South-East Asia, mainly India and Myanmar (e-Flora of India, 2021). It is found in tropical lowlands at elevations up to 1000 m mostly on alluvial soils, in mixed deciduous forest, sometimes in dry dipterocarp forest (Orwa et al., 2009). Outside of its native range, it is cultivated in southern China (eFloras, 2021). Terminalia elliptica does well in places where the mean maximum and minimum annual temperatures are within the range 22-35°C. It can tolerate 5-48°C but will be killed by temperatures of -1°C. It prefers a mean annual rainfall between 1000 and 2000 mm, though it can tolerate from 750-3800 mm (Fern, 2019). Terminalia elliptica succeeds in any moderately fertile, well-drained soil and a position in full sun. Young trees are tolerant of considerable shade. Terminalia elliptica grows in moist soils and is one of the last trees to shed its leaves during the dry season. It prefers soils with pH in the range of 5.5-6.5, but it tolerates 4.5-7.5. It is tolerant of poor, shallow soils, though it might remain stunted under harsher conditions (Fern, 2019).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

There is limited information on the nutritive value of the fodder of Terminalia elliptica. The available data shows a forage of moderate protein content (9-20% DM) and not too rich in fibre.


Terminalia elliptica is widely lopped for fodder in its native range in India and Nepal. In Madhya Pradesh, asna trees were reported to be stunted because of lopping and cutting (Kotwal, 1987). In Nepal, asna trees were among the 14 most preferred species lopped and used to feed goats and buffalo (Degen et al., 2010). In India, a study aiming at identifying goats preferences showed that goats only ate asna tree leaves and not flowers or fruits (Setiya et al., 2015). In West Bengal, a nutritional assessment based on chemical composition concluded that asna foliage could be a valuable fodder for livestock (Gupta et al., 2016). In South West Bengal, Terminalia elliptica is  consumed by the wild migratory elephants (Santra et al., 2008). 


While Terminalia elliptica is used for fodder in India, there is no information available on its possible use in rabbit feeding (as of 2021). Experimental studies with rabbits would be welcome.

Other species 

Tasar silkworm Antheraea mylitta Drury

Terminalia elliptica is a primary host for the tasar silkworm Antheraea mylitta, and there has been a considerable amount of research since the 1960s dedicated to the study of the interactions of this insect with its plant host, notably Terminalia elliptica, Terminalia arjuna, and Shorea robusta. The leaves of Terminalia elliptica have often been found of higher nutritional value than those of other host plants: it is richer in protein, soluble protein, carbohydrates, chlorophyll, and minerals, as well as poorer in fibre (Deka et al., 2013). This results in higher performance in silk production. For instance, in a comparison of Terminalia elliptica, Terminalia arjuna and Anogeissus latifolia, the highest silk gland total protein concentration was recorded with T. elliptica leaves. In a study of 6 generations where larvae were fed T. elliptica, T. arjuna or Ziziphus jujuba, T. elliptica resulted in higher fecundity and shell weight. Other studies concluded on the superiority of T. elliptica over other hosts on other performance measurements, such as cocoon weight (Bhatia et al., 2014).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Crude protein % DM 14.6 3.9 8.9 19.3 8  
Crude fibre % DM 15.7 4.3 9.8 22 8  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 41.4         *
Acid detergent fibre % DM 18.5         *
Lignin % DM 3.5         *
Ether extract % DM 4.1 0.9 2.8 5.1 6  
Ash % DM 8.6 2.5 3.3 11.3 8  
Insoluble ash % DM 2       1  
Total sugars % DM 3.4   3.2 3.6 4  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.3         *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 31.5 5.9 22.1 37.8 5  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 8.2 3.3 2.5 10.7 5  
Potassium g/kg DM 14.8   13.6 16.5 4  
Magnesium g/kg DM 15   11 18.4 4  
Iron mg/kg DM 490   380 600 4  
Ruminants nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 68.8       1 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 65.7         *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 12.1         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 9.8         *
Rabbit nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE rabbit MJ/kg DM 11.4         *
MEn rabbit MJ/kg DM 10.9         *
Energy digestibility, rabbit % 62.1         *
Nitrogen digestibility, rabbit % 57         *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Rawat et al., 2006; Santra et al., 2008; Sen, 1938; Sinha et al., 2007

Last updated on 30/07/2021 23:04:05

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Hassoun P., Lebas F., 2021. Asna (Terminalia elliptica). Feedipedia, a programme by INRAE, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/83 Last updated on July 30, 2021, 23:06