Terminalia belong to the Combretum (Combretaceae) family and are widespread in Africa. Of them all, the Silver Terminalia has to be the most beautiful and because of the silver leaves which it gets its name from and is probably the most easily recognizable of them all.
They are usually 4-6m (12-18 feet) in height and prefer sandy soil. The flowers do not have a pleasant smell however but the red seed pods make this tree very attractive.
Among African peoples this tree has a wide variety of uses. A decoction of the bitter roots is not only taken for diarrhoea and to relieve colic, but is also applied as an eyewash. A hot infusion of the roots’ outer layers makes a fomentation for treating pneumonia. A glucoside, nerifolin, has been isolated from parts of the plant and this has been found to have an effect on the heart and pulse rate.The silky, silvery leaf hairs are used by potters for glazing their wares. The hard yellow wood provides a useful general purpose timber for furniture and fence posts.
Good crops are ensured at harvest time and planting time by thrusting a stick into the floor in homage to ancestral spirits but to cut down a whole tree is believed to bring hail storms.