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T. chebula is a medium to large deciduous tree growing to 30 m (98 ft) tall. The leaves are alternate to subopposite in arrangement, oval.They have an acute tip, cordate at the base, margins entire, glabrous above with a yellowish pubescence below.
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. It is regarded as a universal panacea in Ayurveda and in the traditional Tibetan medicine.
A number of glycosides have been isolated from haritaki, including the triterpenes arjunglucoside I, arjungenin, and the chebulosides I and II. Other constituents include a coumarin conjugated with gallic acids called chebulin, as well as other phenolic compounds including ellagic acid, 2,4-chebulyl-β-D-glucopyranose, chebulinic acid, gallic acid, ethyl gallate, punicalagin, terflavin A, terchebin, luteolin, and tannic acid. Chebulic acid is a phenolic acid compound isolated from the ripe fruits.Luteic acid can be isolated from the bark. T. chebula also contains terflavin B, a type of tannin, while chebulinic acid is found in the fruits.