plants text index | photo index
Dungun air
Brownlowia tersa

Family Malvaceae

updated Jan 2013
Where seen? A rather drab shrub that is often overlooked. Some can be seen at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Kranji Nature Trail, Mandai mangroves and at Woodlands Park. Elsewhere, it is also considered rare, although it can be abundant where it is found. It is said to grow in relatively sunny locations in mangrove swamps, and along creeks where mud is accreting. Also found on sandy shores or firm mud, along with Nipah palm (Nypa fruticans).

It is also called 'Durian laut' in Malay which means 'Durian of the sea' probably because the green-above-silvery-below leaves resemble those of the Durian tree. Other than that, it doesn't have much resemblance to the true Durian tree.

Features: A shrub 1.5-2 m tall. Leaves narrow and oval, thin or leathery (8-12cm long). The upper surface is glossy and smooth, while the lower surface is grey-green and covered with a dense layer of tiny, hairy scales. The leaves are spirally alternate.

Flowers tiny (less than 1cm), emerging in axils or at the ends of branches in clusters on stalks up to 4 cm long. The flower pink petals and fluffy yellow stamens.

Fruits tiny (1.5cm) a woody capsule or nut.

There are two species of Brownlowia recorded for Singapore. According to Hsuan Keng, Brownlowia argentata grows on brackish tidal sandy soil and is rare, and was recorded at Kranji. While Brownlowia tersa grows in mangroves and was recorded for Kranji and Sungei Mandai.

Human uses: According to Giesen, the timber is sometimes used for fencing or as fuelwood.

Status and threats: Brownlowia argentata is considered 'Presumed Nationally Extinct' while Brownlowia tersa is 'Endangered'. on the Red List of threatened plants of Singapore.

Leaves glossy above, hairy below.
Mandai, Mar 11

Tiny pink flowers.
Woodlands Park, Apr 09

Woodlands Park, Apr 09

Mandai, Mar 11

Woodlands Park, May 09

Mandai, Mar 11

Dugun air on Singapore shores

Photos of Dugun air for free download from wildsingapore flickr

Distribution in Singapore on this wildsingapore flickr map


  • Brownlowia tersa on Total Vascular Flora of Singapore Online: photos and fact sheet.
  • Brownlowia tersa on 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.
  • Tomlinson, P. B., 1986. The Botany of Mangroves Cambridge University Press. USA. 419 pp.
  • 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.
  • Corners, 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.
  • 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.
FREE photos of mangrove trees and plants. Make your own badge here.
links | references | about | email Ria
Spot errors? Have a question? Want to share your sightings? email Ria I'll be glad to hear from you!
wildfactsheets website©ria tan 2008