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Seashore and Beach Plants

Excoecaria agallocha blind-your-eye mangrove Buta-buta Euphorbiaceae

 

 Excoecaria agallocha, blind-your-eye mangrove, buta buta

 

Excoecaria agallocha

 Excoecaria agallocha, blind-your-eye mangrove, buta buta

The milky sap of this tree can cause temporary blindness if it enters the eyes, hence is common name in English and Malay. The sap can also cause skin blisters and irritation.
branch with male flowersfemale flowers and red leaves Each tree bears either male or female flowers. So when they are in bloom, the trees can look confusingly different! The flowers are wind pollinated.
The young leaves are pinkish. Old leaves turn bright red when they are about to drop off.

The fruit capsules explode when ripe to disperse the seeds by water. The seeds have an air space within the seed coat to help them float. They don't germinate on the parent tree.
The tree grows further inland usually at the high water mark. It can grow in both stony and muddy ground. The tree can tolerate dry and salty conditions. It grows quickly in open areas, but can also survive in shade.
sap from broken leafUses: Natives in New Guinea use the sap as an ingredient in arrow poison. The sap is also used to stun fish. The timber is soft, white, light with a fine grain and rots quickly. Nevertheless, in Bangladesh, the tree is an important source of cheap planks, matches and matchboxes, and pulp for paper. The timber is easily transported by water as it floats. It is also used as firewood and converted into charcoal.
Traditional medicinal uses: The plant is used to treat sores and stings from marine creatures. Smoke from the bark is used to treat leprosy. The plant is being tested for modern medical uses. Modern clinical trials show that the plant may have anti-HIV, anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.

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