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Tropical Seashores  : Mangrove

Lumnitzera littorea Black mangrove Api-api uding Combretaceae

 

 Lumnitzera-littorea, Black mangrove, api api uding

 

Lumnitzera littorea

 Lumnitzera-littorea, Black mangrove, api api uding

Short shrub to tree up to 25m tall with a trunk 50-65cm in diameter. Leaves spatula shaped with oval ends (2-8cm), thick and fleshy, arranged in a spiral. There is small gland at the leaf tip that resembles leaf nodules and are believed to contain nitrogen fixing bacteria. Flowers small (2-3cm) in dense bunches, bright red with five tiny petals (the stamens are much longer than the petals). The flowers are fragrant and produce lots of nectar. This species appears to be predominantly pollinated by birds, especially sunbirds and honey eaters, with bees and wasps as additional visitors.
The small fruits are ribbed, corky and float, and dispersed by water. Each fruit contains one seed. Bark dark and deeply fissured. Some may have slender knee roots.
Sometimes mistaken for Chengam (Scyphiphora hydrophyllacea) which has its leaves arranged in a spiral.
Although occurring throughout Malaysia and Indonesia, L. littorea and L. racemosa practically exclude each other in habitat and have never been collected in exactly the same stand. The exact cause of this different ecological behaviour is not yet known.
Human uses: The timber is hard and durable, and thus sought after for marine pilings as well as bridges, wharves, parts of canoes and other household items. There are reports that pier posts made of the tree were still sound after 20-50 years. When first cut it smells of roses. But large-sized timber is rare. It is also used as firewood.

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