Chiratia leucantha Montr.
Sonneratia acida Benth.
Sonneratia iriomotensis Masam.
Sonneratia mossambicensis Klotzsch ex Peters
Tree with very clear pneumataphores (breathing roots)
Photograph by: Ria Tan
Sonneratia alba is an evergreen tree with a broad, spreading, rather lax crown; it can grow from 3 - 15 metres tall with occasional specimens to 30 metres. The tree is surrounded by thick, blunt pneumatophores (vertical roots arising from shallow, horizontal roots) - these can vary in size from 30 - 100cm tall[
The tree is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use as a source of fuel, edible fruit, tannins and a cork substitute. It plays an important role in mangrove communities, helping to bind the soil and to shelter and protect the land behind from erosion.
This species is common through most of its range, but there are increasing threats to mangrove swamps in general, mainly from human activities. Consequently, the tree has been classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2010)[
Coastal areas from eastern Africa, through the Indian Ocean and tropical Asia to northern Australia and the Pacific to Vanuatu and the Solomon Isles.
Shallow parts of calm seas and seashores, tidal creeks[
]. Prefers salt water and grows as well on a sandy or rocky as on a muddy soil, not rarely on coral-terraces[
]. Requires a tidal range of at least one metre[
|Conservation Status||Least Concern
|Other Uses Rating||
A plant of moist coastal areas in the tropics. It succeeds in areas with no dry season as well as those with a dry season[
Prefers a sunny position[
]. Prefers soils of consolidated mud and sand[
]. Prefers a heavy soil, but tolerates most soil types[
]. Grows in areas that are inundated by salt water at high tides. Prefers a pH in the range 6.7 - 7.3, but tolerates 6.5 - 7.5[
]. Plants are tolerant of strong, salt-laden winds.
The tree responds well to coppicing[
The flowers are nocturnal, opening in the evening and falling off in the morning[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. Slightly acid, it is also used for making vinegar[
]. The ripe fruit is said to taste like cheese[
Leaves - raw or cooked[
The plant is used in traditional medicine to treat cuts and bruises[
The fruit is used to treat intestinal parasites and coughs[
A very important tree in the coastal swamp community, helping to protect the soil from erosion and providing an important habitat for wildlife[
]. It may act as a pioneer, colonizing newly formed sandy mud flats in sheltered situations[
]. It is less suited for replanting on sites where sedimentation is high as the sediment will cover the pneumatophores and hence kill the plants[
The pneumatophores (vertical roots rising above ground) are sometimes used for the manufacture of the wooden soles of shoes and are made into floats[
The bark contains 9 - 12% tannin, but is not often used as other species richer in tannin are more readily available[
A brownish dye is obtained from the bark[
The heartwood is brown to reddish brown; it is distinctly demarcated from the paler sapwood[
]. The tree rarely, if ever, forms heartwood[
]. The wood is moderately heavy, hard and durable. It contains small amounts of salts, making it resistant to wood borers. These salts in the wood corrode metal, and therefore special nails and screws are needed. The heavy timber is resistant to shipworm and pests and is used for building boats, canoes, piling and posts for bridges and houses, carpentry, paddles, masts, floats, and window and door frames[
The tree is cut only with mixed inferior fire woods[
]. Although it produces a lot of heat, it also produces a lot of ash and salt[
]. The wood is also used for making chacoal[
Seed - it has a low viability of less than three months[
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