Senegalia catechu is a deciduous, thorny tree which grows up to 15 m (50 ft) in height. The plant is called khair in Hindi, and kachu in Malay, hence the name was Latinized to “catechu” in Linnaean taxonomy, as the type-species from which the extracts cutch and catechu are derived. Common names for it include acacia catechu, cachou, cutchtree, black cutch, and black catechu. It is found in Asia, China, India and the Indian Ocean area.
Through derivatives of the flavanols in its extracts, the species has lent its name to the important catechins, catechols and catecholamines of chemistry and biology.