plants text index | photo index
Coastal plants
updated Dec 2019
What are coastal plants? Living near the coast is tough. Plants have to withstand strong winds that blow salty water on them, and for those that grow on rocky cliffs, precarious perches with not much soil and have a tendency to crumble away.

Coastal plants don't grow with their roots in the sea, unlike mangroves. You can see that they are mostly found with their roots above the high water mark. Although sometimes, their branches and even trunks lean well over the water.
Coastal forest and natural cliffs of Pulau Tekukor Coastal forest on natural cliffs at Pulau Tekukor.

The seashore pandan can form
prickly thickets near the shore.

The critically endangered Seashore tacca
is only found near shores.

Coastal plants creeping out on
to the shores in a dense carpet.
Pulau Semakau, Jan 09
These coastal plants come in a wide variety.

All kinds of trees, shrubs, vines and other plants can be found near shores. These may creep out from level ground to sandy shores. Yet others flourish on steep cliffs and rocky areas near the shores but out of the reach of the highest tides. Some of these plants are not exclusive to shores and can also be found elsewhere. Some plants that grow in the back mangroves are called mangrove associates.

Role in the habitat: Like other plants, those that grow on the coast provide many services for other plants and animals, including humans. Coastal plants provide food and shelter for birds and other terrestrial creatures. When their leaves and fruits and other parts fall on the shore, these also contribute to nutrients in the marine habitats. One study found that clown anemonefishes find their way to anemones by the smell of the forest leaves in the water.

Photos of coastal forest on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr for free download.

Coastal plants on Singapore shores
text index and photo index of coastal plants on this site.

Threatened coastal plants of Singapore
from 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.

  Family Amaryllidaceae
  Crinum asiaticum (CR: Critically Endangered)

  Family Apocynacea
  Cerbera manghas (CR: Critically Endangered)
Cerbera odollam (VU: Vulnerable)

  Family Clusiaceae
  Calophyllum inophyllum (CR: Critically Endangered)

  Family Fabaceae
  Pongamia pinnata (EN: Endangered)

  Family Lecythidaceae
  Barringtonia asiatica (CR: Critically Endangered)
Barringtonia conoidea (NE: Nationally Extinct)
Barringtonia macrostachya (CR: Critically Endangered)
Barringtonia racemosa (CR: Critically Endangered)
Barringtonia reticulata (CR: Critically Endangered)

  Family Melastomataceae
  Memecylon edule (CR: Critically Endangered)

  Family Myristicaceae
  Knema globularia (CR: Critically Endangered)

  Family Myrsinaceae
  Ardisia elliptica (EN: Endangered)

  Family Podocarpaceae
  Podocarpus polystachyus (CR: Critically Endangered)

  Family Sapotaceae
  Pouteria linggensis (CR: Critically Endangered)
Pouteria maingayi (EN: Endangered)
Pouteria malaccensis (VU: Vulnerable)

  Family Taccaceae
  Tacca leontopetaloides (CR: Critically Endangered)


  • 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.
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