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Pemphis acidula

Family Lythraceae

updated Jan 2013
Where seen? This rare tree is sometimes seen in our remote shores, on rocky cliffs or near mangroves where no other plants seem to be able to do well.

Features: Small tree (7-10m tall), according to Tomlinson 'more usually a low shrub 1-2m tall'. Bark light grey to brown becoming deeply fissured with age and shedding in long curling strips. Young twigs angular, densely hairy becoming gnarled and twisted with age.

Leaves small (1-3cm) thick fleshy, greyish green, both sides densely covered in stiff white hairs giving them a silky look. The leaves wither yellow.

Flowers small (1cm) with six delicate white petals. It is said to be pollinated by bees.

Fruit tiny spherical capsule (0.5cm), green ripening to red then brown, containing 20-30 flattened angular seeds.

Corners says the plant 'is abundant where it grows' but is a 'very local tree' in Malaya's rocky and sandy coasts. It likes to grow on the detritus of small granite boulders and broken coral as well as exposed rocks in full sun just above the tide level but in reach of the spray. Corners says there 'used to be some wild plants at Changi in Singapore'. According to Hsuan Keng, it grows often partially submerged in the sea at high tide and was found on Changi and St. John's Island. According to Tomlinson, it is found 'in rocky foreshores and more exposed mangrove associations'. According to Burkill, 'the coast of the Malay Peninsula scarcely suits it and it has only been recorded in Singapore'.

There was a 4m tall Mentigi tree at Changi but it was toppled in a storm in Nov 2006.

Status and threats: It is listed as 'Critically Endangered' in the Red List of threatened plants of Singapore.

Pulau Biola, Dec 09

Pulau Biola, Dec 09

Pulau Biola, Dec 09

Pulau Biola, Dec 09

Mentigi on Singapore shores

Photos of Mentigi for free download from wildsingapore flickr

Distribution in Singapore on this wildsingapore flickr map


  • Pemphis acidula on Total Vascular Flora of Singapore Online: photos and fact sheet.
  • Pemphis acidula 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.
  • A rare mangrove tree: Mentigi on the wild shores of singapore blog with links to an article about the loss of the large tree at Changi.


  • Hsuan Keng, S.C. Chin and H. T. W. Tan.1998, The Concise Flora of Singapore II: Monoctyledons Singapore University Press. 215 pp.
  • Tomlinson, P. B., 1986. The Botany of Mangroves Cambridge University Press. USA. 419 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.
  • 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.
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