coastal plants
Allophylus cobbe

Family Sapindaceae

updated Jan 2013
Where seen? This pretty shrub with bright red fruits are sometimes seen in our back mangroves and sandy shores. According to Hsuan Keng, common along seashores including Kranji, Seletar and Jurong. Elsewhere, they are also found in secondary forest. Globally widely distributed from South America, South Africa through India to Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea.

Features: A shrub to tree (3-5m tall), sometimes a climber. Variable shape and growth form, Corners identified 5 varieties.

Distinguished by leaf made up of three leaflets eye-shaped (4-9cm long), with a toothed edge, green that wither yellow.

Flowers tiny (0.2cm) white many on a spike.

Berries globular small (0.5cm), several clustered on a stem. These ripen orange or red and are fleshy. The seeds are dispersed by birds.

According to the NParks Flora and Fauna website, it is the preferred local food plant for caterpillars of the moths, Cleora injectaria and Gonodontis clelia. According to Butterfly Circle, it is the host plant for Nacaduba pavana singapura.

Human uses:
According to Giesen, the wood is not considered of good quality and only used for roofing and sometimes as firewood. According to Selvan, the wood was used to make bows. The fruits are edible and according to Selvam, tastes "very sweet". The leaves are used as a mouthwash, to treat fractures, relieve rashes. The roots are used to treat diarrhoea.

Pulau Ubin, Oct 09

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Sep 09

Kranji Nature Trail, Jan 13

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Sep 09

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Sep 09

Nymphs of bugs seen on berries.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Mar 11

Nymphs of bugs seen on leaves.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Mar 11

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Sep 09

Tit-berry on Singapore shores

Photos of Tit-berry for free download from wildsingapore flickr

Distribution in Singapore on this wildsingapore flickr map


  • Allophylus cobbe on Total Vascular Flora of Singapore Online: photos and fact sheet.
  • Allophylus cobbe on the NParks Flora and Fauna website: photos and fact sheet.


  • Tan, Hugh T.W. and T. Morgany. 2001. Growing the Native Plants of Singapore. BP Science Centre Guidebook. 168pp.
  • Hsuan Keng, S.C. Chin and H. T. W. Tan. 1990, The Concise Flora of Singapore: Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Singapore University Press. 222 pp.
  • Tomlinson, P. B., 1986. The Botany of Mangroves Cambridge University Press. USA. 419 pp.
  • Corners, E. J. H., 1997. Wayside Trees of Malaya: in two volumes. Fourth edition, Malayan Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. Volume 1: 1-476 pp, plates 1-38; volume 2: 477-861 pp., plates 139-236.
  • V. Selvam. 2007. Trees and Shrubs of the Maldives. Food and Agriculture Organisation RAP publication 2007/12.
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