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coastal plants
Gelang laut
Sesuvium portulacastrum

Family Aizoaceae

updated Jan 13
Where seen? A carpet of this succulent plant is sometimes seen on beaches and back mangroves. The tiny flowers are delicate and pink. According to Hsuan Keng, it is found on clay soil near the seashores. According to Giesen, it is found throughout Southeast Asia, but not (yet) recorded in Borneo. 'Gelang laut' means 'Garland of the Sea' in Malay. It is also called 'Sepit-sepit'.

Features: A spreading creeper with many branches forming a carpet on the high shores of sandy beaches and in back mangroves. Stems and leaves thick and fleshy. Stems up to 1m long, smooth, sometimes bright red, and with roots at the nodes. Leaves narrow spear-like (2.5-7cm) fleshy. Flowers tiny (0.5cm) at the leaf axils, pale pink. The flowers close at night and when the sky is overcast. Flowering occurs throughout the year. The fruit is a smooth, round capsule containing tiny pea-shaped smooth black seeds. The seeds don't float.

Small, pollen-collecting bees and day-flying moths pollinate the flowers.

Human uses:
According to Burkill, the fresh leaves make a very good vegetable, but only after cooking by 2-3 boilings as they contain much salt. According to Geisen, in Thailand, this plant is used widely as forage and feed for sheep, cattle and pigs and even as a vegetable for human consumption.

Growing with Beach morning glory.
Pulau Semakau, Jan 09

Pulau Semakau, Apr 09

Pulau Ubin, Jan 09

Pulau Ubin, Jan 09

Pulau Semakau, Apr 09

Gelang laut on Singapore shores

Photos of Gelang laut for free download from wildsingapore flickr

Distribution in Singapore on this wildsingapore flickr map


  • Sesuvium portulacastrum on Total Vascular Flora of Singapore Online: photos and fact sheet.
  • Sesuvium portulacastrum 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.


  • Hsuan Keng, S.C. Chin and H. T. W. Tan. 1990, The Concise Flora of Singapore: Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Singapore University Press. 222 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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