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
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.