Where seen? This bush with fleshy green leaves and a 'split'
flower is often seen on our rocky shores and sandy beaches where it
is tolerant of salty spray although its roots doesn't actually tolerate
regular flooding by seawater. Elsewhere, it is found on beaches and
sand dunes, and in mangroves only in sandy, well-drained areas. It
is considered among the most common seashore shrubs in our part of
the world. It has also been introduced to the New World. Previously
known as S. frutescens and S. sericea. It is also called
Features: A shrub that can grow
to a small tree 3-10m tall. Leaves thick and succulent (8-25cm long),
arranged alternately in a spiral. The plant can form extensive colonies
by underground branching of its stems.
Flowers (2-2.5cm) emerge in clusters. The flower is distinctive 'split-into-half'
with the style curving over the white petals, but sometimes with violet
stripes. According to Giersen, large bees pollinate the flowers, although
self-pollination also seems to occur.
Fruit globular small (1-1.5cm) fleshy, green ripening white. Each
fruit contains 1-2 corky seeds. The fruits float in the sea and may
be dispersed by water, as well as by birds.
Human uses: According to Corners, the leaves are bitter
and "scarcely edible" but the juice of the fruits are soothing
and refreshing for inflamed eyes. The large pith of the young twigs
are sometimes used by Malays to cut into fancy flowers and other objects.
According to Burkill, medicinal uses including the bitter leaves in
indigestion, pith for diarrhoea, poultice of leaves for headaches
and on swollen legs, juice of berries for sore eyes. According to
Wee, in Indonesia the roots are used as an antidote to eating poisonous
fish and crabs. According to Giersen, the wood is resistant to sea
water but found in small quantities so it is used for making nails
Pulau Semakau, Mar 09
Flower is 'split'.
Pulau Semakau, Jan 09
ripens to white.
Sentosa, Jul 11
with violet markings.
Sentosa, Jul 11
on Singapore shores
- 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.
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.
- Wee Yeow
Chin. 1992. A
Guide to Medicinal Plants. The Singapore Science Centre.