This tree is now rare in the wild. In Singapore, there were only a
few trees at Woodlands Town Garden and the upper reaches of Sungei
Seletar. In the past, it was also found in tidal rivers in Balestier
plain and Changi. The tree, however, has since been replanted in
Sungei Buloh. The tree is usually found in tidal river-banks and
creeks with mud banks and is considered the most inland of the
Features: Tall tree 5-15m tall. The young branches hang down like
those of the weeping willow (Salix babylonica) or angsana (Pterocarpus
indicus). Leaves nearly circular or oval (6-8cm), narrow at the
base, arranged opposite one another. The leaves have a 'tidy'
appearance compared to those of Perepat (Sonneratia alba). Flowers
with petals narrow and dark red, and many long white stamens that
are pink at the base, forming a powder-puff shape. Sepals broadly
triangular and yellowish greenish on the inside. The flowers open
late in the evening and lasts for one night only. According to
Giesen, the night-blooming flowers contain abundant nectar and are
pollinated by bats and moths.
Fruit with calyx lobes flat, spreading out horizontally. Conical
pneumatophores at first greenish grey with flaky bark that may grow
to 2m tall at maturity. Many narrow roots may grow horizontally into
the substrate at the base of the pneumatophore.
Human uses: According to Burkill, the young fruit is sour and
used to flavour curries and chutnies. When ripe, the fruit have a
"cheese-like taste" and is eaten raw or cooked. The pneumatophores
are converted into corks for fishing net floats by shaping them and
boiling them in water. The timber is not much used as the salt in it
rusts iron nails and screws. Medicinal uses include various parts of
the fruit for haemorrhage and coughs. According to Giesen, it makes
poor timber but is occasionally used in salt-water piling. The
pnematophores are used for making wooden soles of shoes.
Status and threats: It is listed as 'Critically Endangered' on
the Red List of threatened plants of Singapore.