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mangroves | Xylocarpus in general
Nyireh laut
Xylocarpus rumphii

Family Meliaceae

updated Jan 2013
Where seen? This rare tree is found on our natural rocky shores at St. John's Island and Sentosa. According to Hsuan Keng, it has been recorded on rocky coasts of Singapore.

Features: A tall tree (8-10m). The bark is fissured and the tree doesn't have specialised roots (no buttress roots or pneumatophores). The roots clasp large boulders on the rocky shore.

Compound leaf comprising 2-4 pairs of leaflets (4.5-17cm long) that are oval to nearly heart-shaped with prominent pale veins, thick and leathery. Flowers tiny white to pinkish in clusters on an inflorescence.

Fruits spherical, small (8-10cm) and appear in clusters when young. Unripe fruits are shiny green, turning brown and splitting when ripe to release 5-20 seeds. The seeds are irregularly angular.

Human uses: According to Giesen, among its uses are the wood for handles of traditional knives (kris) and in building boats, the bark for tanning and dyeing cloth. The seeds are used to treat stomachache.

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

St. John's Island, Jul 09

Fruits small often in pairs.
Sentosa, Apr 09

Leaftlets almost heart-shaped
with prominent pale veins.

St. John's Island, Aug 09

Bark with longitudinal fissures.
Sentosa, Apr 09

Fruits small.
St. John's Island, Feb 11

Sentosa, Mar 10

Nyireh laut on Singapore shores

Photos of Nyireh laut 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.
  • Tan, Hugh T.W. and T. Morgany. 2001. Growing the Native Plants of Singapore. BP Science Centre Guidebook. 168pp.
  • 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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