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Barringtonia acutangula (L.) Gaertn.

Family Name: Lecythidaceae
Synonyms: Barringtonia spicata, Eugenia acutangula
Common Name: Indian Putat, Freshwater Mangrove, Red Barringtonia, Stream Barringtonia, Indian Oak, Itchy Tree, Itchy Bush, Wild Almond, Kandu Almond
Full Sun: 6-8h Lots of Water Moderate Water Bird-Attracting Fruit & Vegetable Herb & Spice Fragrant Ornamental Flowers Dry Soils / Drought Tree


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Small (6m-15m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Vase, Open
Maximum Height 15 m


Native Distribution Afghanistan, Indian sub-continent, Indochina, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia)
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Monsoon Forest, Riverine)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Small semi-deciduous tree, up to 15m height, with fissured grey bark.
Flowers Scarlet red, powderpuff, with numerous filamentous stamens, held in dangling racemes the length of a human arm, with up to 90 flowers per chain. Mildly-fragrant and nocturnal (opening at sunset and aborting by daybreak). Tree blooms periodically throughout the year.
Fruits 4-angled corky capsules with spongy interior, 3-4cm long, float on and dispersed by water.
Others - Plant Morphology Leaves: Thick, glossy green with prominent veins, partially shed during extended dry periods.
Habitat Distributed along riverbanks and lakes in evergreen and deciduous forests, as well as on seasonally-inundated floodplains and freshwater wetlands.
Associated Fauna Flower nectar attracts bats, moths, and birds like honeyeaters and lorikeets. Euproctis lutea (Yellow Tussock Moth) lays eggs on sheltered undersides of leaves, and the hairy black caterpillars feed on the fruits. Caterpillars' ability to cause severe skin irritation or rash gives rise to tree's common names like Itchy Tree and Itchy Bush.
Cultivation Hardy tree, able to sprout from stumps and even fallen twigs. Tolerant of waterlogging and wide range of soils, including heavy clay. Propagate by seeds and stem cuttings.
Etymology Genus epithet 'Barringtonia' named after Daines Barrington (1727-1800), English lawyer, antiquary and naturalist. Species epithet 'acutangula' means 'having sharply-pointed angles', a reference to the tree's ribbed fruits.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Leaves)
Food (Herb and Spice;Fruit & Vegetable)
[Others]: Medicinal: Various parts of plant used in Ayurvedic medicine. Roots are cooling and used to relieve fever. Bitter-tasting leaves used to treat diarrhoea and indigestion. Seeds rubbed over chest or eaten with ginger to induce vomitting and expel respiratory mucus. Also used as general health tonic to relieve bodily weakness, improve blood circulation and regulate menstrual cycle. Bark used by Aboriginals as painkiller. Bark is also anti-microbial, and boiled in water, which is drunk to treat skin infections. Food: Young shoots edible and consumed as vegetable in Mekong River Basin region. Products: Saponin-rich leaves and bark pounded and used to deoxygenate water for the purpose of stunning fish, which can then be easily caught. Timber: Wood used in construction and burnt as firewood. Culture: Australian aborigines use blooming season as signal to hunt for freshwater mussels. Flowers used by the Kaumaras (a Hindu sect) in the worship of Lord Muruga.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Fragrant (Flowers) (Night, Dawn / Dusk, Day), Ornamental Fruits
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Dry Soils / Drought
Landscape Uses General, Riverine
Thematic Landscaping Water Garden, Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment
Usage Hazard - Cons Remarks May be colonized by caterpillars of Euproctis lutea (Yellow Tussock Moth), whose irritant hairs can cause severe skin itch and rash.

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee), Insects (Butterfly, Moth), Vertebrates (Bird), Vertebrates (Bat))
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic (Water)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water, Lots of Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Drought / Semi-Deciduous
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Glossy / Shiny, Thick
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Red
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Obovate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire - Wavy / Undulate, Dentate
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Cuneate
Typical Foliar Area Notophyll ( 20.25cm2 - 45 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Bark Colour(s) Grey
Mature Bark Texture Fissured
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Red
Inflorescence Type Raceme
Ovary Position Inferior / Epipgynous
Flowering Opening Time Night (dusk to dawn)
Flower Lifespan on Plant 1 Night
Flowering Habit Polycarpic
Flowering Period Remarks Periodically throughout year in Singapore

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Capsule

Image Repository



Master ID 1450
Species ID 2743
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 24 March 2021.