Where seen? This rather untidy tree with dull metallic
leaves is described by Corners as a 'dinghy' tree. It is sometimes
seen in our Northern mangroves. Usually found in the back mangroves
and sometimes on rocky shores. According to Hsuan Keng, it was found
in Bajau, Kranji, Pulau Jahat, Pulau Tekong. It seems intolerant of
high salinities and does not occur in very exposed areas or poorly
Features: A much branched, untidy
tree (15-25m tall) with rather 'dirty' looking leaves. Bark dark or
pinkish grey, smooth becoming flaky, fissured when older. May have
short plank or sinuous buttresses.
Leaves oblong (10-20cm long) thin but stiff, leathery dark green above
and silvery white below. This is because of overlapping star-shaped
scales on the underside. Leaves are arranged alternately in a spiral
and wither to a dull orange-yellow.
tiny (0.5cm) very many loosely clustered in a spray (5-18cm long).
Bell-shaped calyx and stems pinkish and velvety. Each tree bears either
male or female flowers.
Fruits are egg-shaped (4-5cm) woody with a ridge along the centre
of one side so that they resemble boats with a sail. Pale green ripening
to glossy brown or purple. The fruits can float for weeks and will
germinate when they are stranded at high tide. Each fruit contains
one seed (3cm long).
The seeds are eaten by large crabs, monkeys and wild boar.
Uses: According to Burkill, considered "possibly the
toughest of Malayan timbers", it is valued for boat building.
As masts if the trunk is straight enough, or for rudders and other
parts. It is also used in a wide range of household uses. According
to Burkill, "the people of Malaysia formerly valued it for stopping
bullets. They built stockades of it and raised the thwarts of their
pirate canoes with it." Medicinal uses include using the twigs
as tooth-brushes, the tanning in them may be good for the gums. Seeds
are used in cures for diarrhoea and dysentery. According to Giesen,
the heavy wood is good for raw material to be made into wrapping or
printing paper. The fruits and seeds are used in treating diarrhoea
and dysentery, seeds are used in fish dishes and roots used as fish
Status and threats: It is listed
as 'Endangered' in the Red List of threatened plants of Singapore.
dark green above, silvery below.
Lim Chu Kang, Apr 09
pink and velvety.
Chek Jawa, Apr 12
pink and velvety.
Mandai mangroves, Mar 11
Wetland Reserve, Feb 09
Trail , Sep 11
Thin ridge in
trees on Singapore shores
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.
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.
- Hsuan Keng,
S.C. Chin and H. T. W. Tan. 1990, The
Concise Flora of Singapore: Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons.
Singapore University Press. 222 pp.
P. B., 1986. The
Botany of Mangroves
Cambridge University Press. USA. 419 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.