Sonneratia have thick cone-shaped pneumatophores. They use
ultrafiltration at the root level to exclude salt. Sonneratia alba
can tolerate wide fluctuations in salinity and often grow on
exposed, soft but stable mudbanks low on the tidal mudflats. It is
believed that they store excess salt in old leaves which they later
The bark of young Sonneratia is covered with a layer of wax,
probably to protect it against water loss and attacks by creatures
great and small.
Uses as food: Leaves may be eaten raw or cooked. The ripe fruit are
eaten by people from Africa to the Malays and Javanese, and are said
to taste like cheese. In Eastern Africa the leaves are used a camel
Other uses: Sonneratia is used for firewood, but is not the
preferred mangrove tree for this purpose. Although it produces a lot
of heat, it also produces a lot of ash and salt.
Main features: Grows up to 15m tall.
Bark: Cream, grey to brown bark, slight vertical fissures.
Roots: No buttresses or prop roots. Has pneumatophores that are
cone-shaped (unlike the pencil-like ones of Avicennia).
Leaves: Rounded, leathery, opposite, upper and underside of leaf
Flower: White, pom-pom-like, open only for one night.
Fruit: Large (4 cm) green, leathery berries with a star-shaped base.
Contains 100-150 tiny seeds that are white, flattened and buoyant. a
Traditional medicinal uses: Sonneratia caseolaris is used in
poultices for cuts, bruises (Burma) and sprains and swellings. Ripe
fruit are used to expel intestinal parasites (Malay) and half-ripe
fruit for coughs.