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mangroves | Xylocarpus in general
Nyireh batu
Xylocarpus moluccensis

Family Meliaceae

updated Jan 2013
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. Xylocarpus mekongensis is a synonym of X. moluccensis.

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

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.

Flowers tiny white to pinkish in clusters on an inflorescence. Fruit elliptical (8-12cm in diameter) containing 5-10 seeds.

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.

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

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

Fruit elliptical.
Pulau Ubin, Jan 09

Bark with longitudinal fissures.
Pulau Ubin, Jan 09

Chek Jawa, Aug 09

Chek Jawa, Aug 09

Chek Jawa, Aug 09

Nyireh batu on Singapore shores

Photos of Nyireh batu 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.
  • 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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