Conocarpus racemosus L.
Laguncularia obovata Miq.
Rhizaeris alba Raf.
Schousboea commutata Spreng.
Common Name: White Buttonwood
Trees growing in native habitat in La Manzanilla, Jalisco, México
Photograph by: Tomas Castelazo
White buttonwood is an evergreen that ranges widely in size from a shrub 3 metres tall or less, up to a moderately large, multi-stemmed tree with a rounded, irregular crown, that can grow up to 25 metres tall with a bole up to 70 cm in diameter[
The tree is harvested from the wild for food, medicines and various commodities.
Coastal areas of tropical W. Africa, the Caribbean, eastern and western coasts of tropical America.
Restricted to the landward fringe of mangrove vegetations, it is also a pioneer on disturbed sites where it can form pure stands[
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A plant of tropical coastal areas. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 30°c, but can tolerate 10 - 38°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,500 - 2,500mm, but tolerates 800 - 7,000mm[
Grows best in a sunny position, tolerating light shade[
]. Succeeds on a wide variety of soil types, including silt, clay, sand, peat, and marl[
]. Tolerates high levels of salt in the soil[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, tolerating 4.5 - 7.5[
A fast-growing tree, seedlings attain a height of approximately 60 to 90 cm after 1 year in the nursery and can then be planted out[
Flowering starts when plants are about 2 years old and occurs all year round[
Fruiting is abundant and usually a carpet of seedlings is produced but most seedlings die in the first year[
The species is often regarded as somewhat weedy in nature and frequently invades sites planted with R. Mangle or Avicennia germinans[
Most glands on the leaf blade function as salt glands and the salt solution may crystallize so rapidly that crystals are extruded in chains from the mouth of the gland[
The plant is predominantly dioecious, but bisexual individuals are also found[
]. In general, both male and female plants need to be grown if seed is required,
The fruits are eaten[
]. The fruit is slightly fleshy and one-seeded (drupe); it is gray-green or pea green when immature and brownish at maturity. The fruits are lens-shaped and about 2 cm long[
A bark infusion is used as an astringent, tonic and folk remedy for dysentery, aphthae, fever and scurvy. It is also attributed some antitumor activity[
The bark and leaves produce a tannin and a brown dye of good quality, but not in quantities that are economically interesting[
]. The bark is used to treat fishing nets for longer preservation[
]. In experiments with bark from Caribbean samples, the bark was found to contain 12 - 24% tannin[
A gum exudes from the bark, especially when it is damaged[
]. It contains sugars (galactose, arabinose and rhamnose), galacturonic acid, glucuronic acid and its 4-O-methyl ether[
]. The gum is similar to that of many Combretum species, giving acidic solutions, with low nitrogen content and high rhamnose content after acidic hydrolysis. The gum has been used in combination with agar as a cheap substrate for in vitro fungi cultures[
The heartwood is yellowish brown; the sapwood light brown[
]. The wood is heavy, hard, strong and close-grained[
]. It is sometimes used for construction and wooden utensils[
]. Untreated poles of the wood in contact with the ground lasted for only 2 - 3 years. If treated it can last for 10 years or more[
The wood is mainly used for fuel and also to make charcoal[
Seed - typically root in 5 to 10 days with no pre-treatment. Seeds can also be soaked until the radicle emerges about 1 cm and then sowed by carefully inserting the radicle into the soil[
]. If the propagules are soaked before sowing, the water should be changed frequently, ideally every day[
Rooted cuttings. Vegetative propagation is important in reforestation programmes in mangrove-suitable areas. The most important factor for survival of cuttings is rooting of the shoots prior to cutting from the parent trees. Under natural conditions rooting occurs often after flooding. Rooted cuttings can even be planted in salt water and they start flowering within a year[
The seeds begin germination whilst still on the tree or while floating in the water, and floating seeds commonly have roots[[
]. The seeds can be collected directly from the trees, from the soil surface, or while they are floating in open water[
]. Little information is available on storage of the seed, but storage for longer than about 10 days is not recommended[