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mangroves > Avicennia in general
Api-api ludat
Avicennia officinalis

Family Acanthaceae

updated Jan 2013
Where seen? This tree with pencil roots and glossy spoon-shaped leaves sometimes seen in our mangroves, but is not as commonly encountered as Avicennia alba. It is found on soft recently consolidated mudbanks, banks of river meanders and at river mouths. Hsuan Keng reported it being found in Changi, River Valley Road and Pulau Ubin.

Features: Tree to 12m tall, sometimes 22m. Bark is smooth, with lenticels, light coloured and not fissured. Pencil-like pneumatophores. Often develops aerial stilt roots.

Leaves often spoon-shaped, though sometimes not (8-10cm long). Upperside glossy green, underside finely hairy, greenish yellow but never white. The upperside may be encrusted in salt crystals especially in dry weather.

Flowers large orange-yellow (about 1cm) in a tight cluster that is more or less globular in shape. The flowers are the largest of our Avicennia. According to Tomlinson, the flowers emit a rancid or fetid smell. It appears to bloom seasonally, with many A. officinalis trees blooming at the same time.

Fruit oval slightly beaked (2-3cm long) smooth velvety.

Human uses: According to Giesen, the fruits are eaten, and timber used as fuel while the bark resin is used in traditional medicine as a contraceptive.

Pulau Ubin, Jun 09

Leaves glossy and smooth.
Chek Jawa, Jul 02

Seedling starting to grow.
Berlayar Creek, Apr 09

Large flowers, crowded together.
Pulau Ubin, May 09

Fruits rounded with pointed tip.
Chek Jawa, Aug 03

Salt crystals on upper surface in hot weather.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Feb 09

Pollinated by flies?
Chek Jawa, Aug 03

Pulau Ubin, Jun 09

Api-api ludat on Singapore shores

Photos of Api-api ludat for free download from wildsingapore flickr

Distribution in Singapore on this wildsingapore flickr map



  • 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.
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