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mangroves | Xylocarpus in general
Nyireh batu
Xylocarpus moluccensis

Family Meliaceae

updated Mar 2020
Where seen? This handsome tree is sometimes seen in our larger mangroves, usually alone or a few trees, often on sandy areas. It is commonly seen at Pulau Ubin and at Pasir Ris mangroves. Xylocarpus mekongensis is a synonym of X. moluccensis.

Features: Tree 5-20m tall. Bark with longitudinal fissures. Small buttress roots or no buttress roots, many peg-shaped (blunt-tipped, nearly cylindrical) pneumatophores.

Leaflets eye-shaped with pointed tips.
Pulau Ubin, Jan 09

Bark with longitudinal fissures.
Pulau Ubin, Jan 09

Seasonally, all the leaves may turn yellow.
Pulau Ubin, Jan 10

Leaflets underside.
Pasir Ris Park, May 09

Chek Jawa, Aug 09
Compound leaf comprising 2-3 pairs of leaflets (4-12cm long) that are oblong with more pointed tips, thin and leathery. The compound leaves are arranged in a spiral and wither to a vivid yellow. Seasonally, all the leaves on a tree may turn yellow, giving an autumn feel to the mangrove forest.

Flowers tiny white to pinkish in clusters on an inflorescence. Fruit oval (not globular) (8-12cm in diameter) containing 5-10 seeds.

Flowers in clusters.
Chek Jawa, Aug 09

Chek Jawa, Aug 09

Fruit elliptical.
Pulau Ubin, Jan 09
Human uses: According to Giesen, the timber is moderately light and soft, but strong and seasons well. It is used in construction of houses and boats. In Java, also for the handles of traditional daggers called 'kris'. It is also used as firewood. Traditional medicinal uses include the seeds for treating stomachaches, fruits to increase appetite, bark tannin for intestinal lailments. The bark is also used to tan fishing nets.

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

Nyireh batu on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr



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