| Putat sungei
Where seen? This tree with hanging garlands of pretty pink
fluffy flowers is now rare in the wild. It is, however, being planted
in some of our coastal parks and reserves. Wild trees are found in
damp places near mangroves, tidal rivers, sandy or rocky shores, freshwater
swamps, peat swamp forests. And even banks of tidal creeks and muddy
ditches in rice-fields in Malaya.
Features: A shrub or small, straggling
tree (5-27m tall).
Leaves (20-30cm) thin leathery, midrib and veins often yellow. The
leaves are finely toothed at the edges. Old leaves wither orange to
Flowers small (3-5cm) a pom-pom of many short pink stamens with small
pink petals. The flowers emerge from a long hanging spike (40-100cm
long). According to Giesen, the night-blooming flowers have "a
very strong fragrant scent" and are pollinated by moths and small
bats. Flowering occurs year round.
Fruit (3-8cm long) egg- or pear-shaped, sometimes weakly angled or
with four faint grooves, green ripening to flushed reddish. The fruit
floats and may travel in seawater for many months. Each fruit usually
contains only one seed (2-4cm long).
It is the food plant for caterpillars of the moths
Attacus atlas (Atlas Moth), Gnathmocerodes tonsoria,
and Thosea andamanica.
Human uses: The plant contains a toxin called saponin,
concentrated mainly in the seeds but also found in other parts of
the plant. According to Burkill, the leaves are used in a poultice
for itching and chicken-pox, as well as to treat sore throats. The
young leaves are eaten raw in Eastern Malaysia, and in the Philippines
the fruits are used to poison wild pigs.
Status and threats: It is listed
as 'Critically Endangered' on the Red List of threatened plants of
Chek Jawa, Mar 09
edge finely toothed.
Admiralty Park, Apr 09
sungei on Singapore shores
racemosa on Total Vascular Flora of Singapore Online:
photos and fact sheet.
racemosa on the NParks Flora and Fauna website: photos
and fact sheet.
- Giesen, Wim
and Stephan Wulffraat, Max Zieren and Liesbeth Scholten. 2006.
Guidebook for Southeast Asia (PDF online downloadable).
RAP publication 2006/07 Food and Agriculture Organization of the
United Nations Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific Bangkok.
- Hsuan Keng,
S.C. Chin and H. T. W. Tan. 1990, The
Concise Flora of Singapore: Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons.
Singapore University Press. 222 pp.
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.
P. B., 1986. The
Botany of Mangroves Cambridge University Press. USA. 419 pp.
G.W. H. and P. K. L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew, 2008. The Singapore
Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore.
Nature Society (Singapore). 285 pp.
I. H., 1993. A
Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula.
3rd printing. Publication Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, Malaysia,
Kuala Lumpur. Volume 1: 1-1240; volume 2: 1241-2444.