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
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.