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coastal plants
Caesalpinia bonduc

updated Oct 2016
Where seen? This rare prickly plant is only seen in Pulau Semakau, Lazarus Island and Pulau Senang. According to Hsuan Keng, it was found near the sea in bushes. According to Tomlinson, it is aldo found inland in secondary forests up to an altitude of 850m. According to Giesen, it is recorded throughout Southeast Asia but is scarce in Sumatra, Borneo and the Philippines. Elsewhere, it is also called the Grey nicker bean plant, refering to the seeds.

Features: A coarse climbing vine (5-15m long) to a prickly shrub. The compound leaf is bipinnate, i.e., resembles a feather, with 12-24 leaflets (2-4cm long) arranged on side branches on a main leaf branch. The entire compound leaf is up to 1m long. The plant is armed with hooked prickles. Flowers in a cluster (up to 50cmm long) yellow with reddish streaks. Flowers are of one sex only. The fruit pods (6-9cm long) armed with numerous rigid spines. The fruit splits open when ripe to reveal 1-2 seeds which are oval, smooth and grey.

Sometimes mistaken for Maiden's jealousy (Tristellateia australasiae) especially when in bloom.

Human uses: According to Giesen, root is used to treat stomach aches and to stimulate the appetite.

Status and threats: This tree is listed as 'Critically Endangered' in the Red List of threatened plants of Singapore.

Pulau Semakau, Dec 08

Pulau Semakau, Feb 12

Pulau Semakau, Oct 11

Pulau Semakau, Nov 11

Pulau Semakau, Nov 11
Developing flowers.
Pulau Semakau, Dec 08

Pulau Semakau, Nov 11

Pulau Semakau, Nov 11

Pulau Semakau, Dec 08

Pulau Semakau, Nov 11

Bonduc on Singapore shores

Photos of Bonduc for free download from wildsingapore flickr

Distribution in Singapore on this wildsingapore flickr map


  • Barringtonia asiatica on the NParks Flora and Fauna website: photos and fact sheet.
  • Giesen, Wim and Stephan Wulffraat, Max Zieren and Liesbeth Scholten. 2006. Mangrove 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.


  • Lok, A. F. S. L., W. F. Ang, K. Y. Chong, P. X. Ng, S. Teo, T. K. Yee, C. K. Yeo & H. T. W. Tan, 2011. The status of Caesalpinia bonduc (L.) Roxb. in Singapore. Nature in Singapore, 4: 43-48.
  • 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.
  • Davison, 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.
  • Burkill, 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.
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