coastal plants
Buas buas
Premna corymbosa
Family Verbenaceae

updated Apr 09
Where seen? This plant with tiny flowers on a branched cluster is commonly seen on many of our wild shores. It is also apparently known as Premna angustior, Premna integrifolia as well as Premna obtusifolia. Plants of the genus Premna have a 'rather foetid tissue' according to Corners. And indeed, the crushed plant does have an odd, rather unpleasant smell. One of its Malay names is Buas-buas. 'Buas' in Malay can mean fierce or wild. The plant seems harmless enough, so I'm not sure how its name came about.

Features: According to Corners, the species is "so variable that it is still undecided whether it does not consist of several species". The typical form is of those that grow on rocky and sandy coasts. The plant first starts as a climber or 'straggling shrub' eventually developing a 'stout stocky trunk' and a bushy crown to become a tree up to 5m tall. The leaves are leathery, light green and comes in various shapes. From spoon-shaped with rounded tips to almost heart-shaped with pointed tips.

The tiny white flowers appear on a many branched cluster that resembles a little white tree. 'Corymbus' means cluster or bunch of flowers. The tiny fruits are oval and black.

Human uses: According to Burkill, the leaves are eaten as a vegetable and sometimes cooked with fish of "an objectionable flavour to mask their taste". The timber is not considered of high value, although small household items are sometimes made of it. Various parts of the plant are used in traditional medicine and one of the common names for this plant is 'Headache tree'. I'm not sure whether this means the plant gives us a headache or cures the headache.

Pulau Hantu, Apr 09

Changi Beach, May 09

'Stout, stocky trunk'

Pulau Semakau, Dec 08

Sungei Buloh, Mar 09

Sisters Island, Aug 09

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