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Barringtonia racemosa (L.) Spreng.

Family Name: Lecythidaceae
Synonyms: Barringtonia racemosa, Barringtonia inclyta
Common Name: Common Putat, Fish-Killer Tree, Fish-Poison Tree, Freshwater Mangrove, Powder-Puff Tree, Putat Ayam, Putat Kampong, Small-Leaved Barringtonia, 水茄笗, 细叶棋盘脚树, 玉蕊

Barringtonia racemosa, also known as Common Putat, has pendulous inflorescence, up to 1m long. The flowers are night-blooming and have filamentous stamens that are white, pink or red. The bark and fruits are crushed and used as fish poisons as they contain toxic saponins.

Full Sun: 6-8h Semi-Shade Lots of Water Moderate Water Native to Singapore Coastal Roadside Tree / Palm Fragrant Ornamental Flowers Tree


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

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, Weeping / Pendulous
Maximum Height 20 m


Native Distribution From East and Southern Africa, Comoro Islands, Madagascar, Seychelles, India, Sri Lanka, Andamans, Nicobar Islands, Myanmar, Thailand, China, throughout Malesia (including Singapore) to the Marianas, Caroline Islands, Northern Australia, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Samoa, and many other Pacific islands.
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Riverine), Shoreline (Mangrove Forest, Backshore, Sandy Beach, Rocky Beach)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Critically Endangered (CR))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a small or medium-sized tree up to 20 m tall.
Foliage Its alternate, shortly-stalked to stalkless leaves possess thinly leathery leaf blades that are green, drop-shaped-oblong to narrowly drop-shaped, 5–42 by 2–16 cm, slightly toothed at the margins, with short tips and yellow veins.
Flowers Its hanging flowering shoots are 20–100 cm long. Its large, shortly-stalked flowers are fragrant, 7.6–10 cm wide, with red sepals, white petals (sometimes tinged pink), and white, pink or red stamens.
Fruits Its fruits are usually 1-seeded, oblong or rather pear-shaped, green or flushed reddish when ripe, and 3–9 by 2–6.4 cm, with four, faint grooves. Its seed is 2–4 cm long.
Habitat It grows in the landward side of mangrove forest, primary and secondary forests on the banks of tidal creeks, rivers and swampy areas, and on sandy or rocky shores, up to 900 m altitude. It occurs locally in Western Catchment Area, and in the vicinity of MacRitchie Reservoir.
Associated Fauna It is the food plant for caterpillars of the moths Attacus atlas (Atlas Moth), Gnathmocerodes tonsoria, and Thosea andamanica. Its flowers are pollinated by bats and moths.
Cultivation Grows well in slightly saline, heavy soils. It can be propagated by seed, or stem cuttings.
Etymology Latin Barringtonia, after Hon. Daines Barrington (1727–1800), English naturalist; Latin racemosa, flowers growing in racemes, referring to the plant’s racemous flowering shoot consisting of a central axis with stalked flowers along it with the youngest at the tip and the older ones progressively lower
Ethnobotanical Uses Timber & Products ( The wood is utilized as firewood, and for construction. The bark provides a source of fibre.)
[Others]: The powdered bark and all other parts of the plant were exploited as a fish poison, while their extracts may be used as an insecticide. The bark and roots are used as tanning agents as they contain high levels of tannin. It is occasionally cultivated as an ornamental tree along roadsides.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping This tree is cultivated in parks, large gardens and and is suitable for roadsides. It has attractive red and white flowers on long, hanging flowering shoots, and large reddish fruits. It can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, so making it suitable for most sites, including beaches to edges of ponds and reservoirs.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Fragrant (Flowers) (Night, Dawn / Dusk, Day), Ornamental Fruits
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Saline Soils / Salt Spray, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Easy to Grow, Fertile Loamy Soils, Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Landscape Uses Coastal, Riverine, Shade Providing Tree / Palm, General, Roadside Tree / Palm, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Beachfront / Shoreline, Pond / Lake / River
Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden, Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment
Plant & Rootzone Preference or Tolerance Remarks Heavy clay soils

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

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

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun, Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water, Lots of Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting
Propagule Establishment Remarks Seeds generally germinate in 10 to 14 days.


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Raised / Sunken Veins, Leathery, Thin
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate, Sessile
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Obovate, Elliptical, Lanceolate, Oblong)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Serrate / Toothed
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
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) Grey-brown to pinkish
Mature Bark Texture Cracked
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 Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Flower Size - Remarks 4cm across
Inflorescence Type Raceme
Flowering Opening Time Night (dusk to dawn)
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Red, Green
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Fleshy Fruit

Image Repository



Master ID 1454
Species ID 2747
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 August 2021.