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Barringtonia asiatica (L.) Kurtz

Family Name: Lecythidaceae
Synonyms: Barringtonia speciosa, Barringtonia asiatica, Barringtonia speciosa
Common Name: Poison Fish Tree, Fish-killer Tree, Beach Barringtonia, Putat Gajah, Mindilla, Sea Putat, Barringtonia, Butun, Butong, Pertun, Putat Laut, 棋盘脚树, 滨玉蕊
Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Native to Singapore Fruit & Vegetable Herb & Spice Coastal Fragrant Ornamental Flowers Ornamental Foliage Tree

Name

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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Medium (16m-30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Rounded
Maximum Height 15 m to 30 m

Biogeography

Native Distribution Tropical Africa, Madagascar, India, Indochina, Taiwan, Malesia, northern Australia, Pacific
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Coastal Forest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Critically Endangered (CR))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a tree up to 30 m tall, with a round crown of shiny, large, dark green leaves.
Trunk The unbuttressed trunk has pinkish-grey bark.
Foliage Its spirally arranged, stalkless leaves possess leathery leaf blades that are shiny dark green, drop-shaped, and 15–52 by 7–21 cm. Its fresh leaves are pinkish-olive with distinct pink veins, and wither yellow to pale orange.
Flowers Its flowering shoots are up to 31 cm long, found at the ends of branches, and more or less upright, unlike the hanging ones typical of other Barringtonia species. Its stalked flowers are bisexual, 15-cm wide, and appear fluffy because of the presence of numerous, white, pink-tipped stamens. Its strongly fragrant flowers also open around sunset in ones or two, in readiness for the nocturnal animal pollinators.
Fruits Its 1–2-seeded fruits are 7–10 cm wide, with a broad square base tapering to two rounded sepals. The fruits mature from green to brown. They hang from branches, and have a tough, corky-fibrous husk that aids in their dispersal by water. Its seeds are oblong, and 4–5 cm long.
Habitat It grows along sandy coasts and seashores. It occurs locally in Labrador Park.
Associated Fauna It is the food plant for moth larvae of Dasychira spp. and Thyas honesta. Fruit bats and night-flying moths are attracted to its flowers and act as pollinators.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed.
Etymology Latin Barringtonia, after Hon. Daines Barrington (1727–1800), English naturalist; Latin asiatica, asian; referring to the natural distribution of the plant.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits)
Food (Herb and Spice;Fruit & Vegetable : The cooked fruits (to remove the saponins) are edible.)
Medicinal ( Backaches and sore joints can be treated using the bark, leaves, and fruits. Rheumatism can be treated using the fresh leaves, while their juices are used to treat diarrhoea. Intestinal worms can also be expelled by ingesting the seeds.)
Timber & Products ( The wood is used to construct boats and huts. )
Cultural / Religious ( Heritage Tree: There is currently one individual of Barringtonia asiatica listed as Heritage Tree in Singapore. It can be found at Singapore Botanic Gardens. To find out more about this tree, please visit the Heritage Tree Register. )
[Others]: Oil extracts from the seeds are used as an illuminant. The fruits and seeds are used as fish poisons as they contain toxic saponins.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Foliage, Fragrant (Flowers) (Night, Dawn / Dusk, Day)
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Saline Soils / Salt Spray
Landscape Uses Coastal, Parks & Gardens, Shade Providing Tree / Palm
Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden, Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment
Usage Hazard - Cons Remarks Fruits may cause injury or damage when they drop. Do not plant tree at car parks and areas with pedestrain traffic.

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

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

Plant Care and Propagation

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

Foliar

Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Glossy / Shiny, Leathery, Thick
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Pink
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Rosulate / Rosette
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Obovate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute, Obtuse
Typical Foliar Area Mesophyll ( 45cm2 - 182.25 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) Pinkish grey
Mature Bark Texture Smooth
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Pink, White
Flower Size - Remarks 15cm across
Flowering Opening Time Night (dusk to dawn)
Flower Lifespan on Plant 1 Night
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed & Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit

Image Repository

Images

Others

Master ID 1451
Species ID 2744
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: 20 April 2020.
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