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Excoecaria agallocha L.

Family Name: Euphorbiaceae
Synonyms: Excoecaria affinis Endl., Excoecaria camettia Willd.
Common Name: Blind-Your-Eyes, Buta-Buta, Bebuta, Milky Mangrove, Kayu Buta-buta, Kampetti, Thilla, Tilai, 海漆
Full Sun Lots of Water Native to Singapore Coastal Plant Fragrant Plant Ornamental Leaves Shrub Tree


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

Classifications and Characteristics

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


Native Distribution From India and Sri Lanka, to southern China, Taiwan, southern Japan, south throughout Southeast Asia, to Papua New Guinea, Northern Australia and Pacific Islands.
Native Habitat Shoreline (Mangrove Forest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Least Concern (LC))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a much-branched tree up to 15 m tall. Its bark is greyish-brown, warty, with vertical fissures and lenticels. The shallow, surface-running roots are often knotted and covered with lenticels. The plant exudes white latex from any broken part. It is also deciduous, and usually sheds its leaves just before the onset of flowering.
Foliage Its spirally arranged, stalked, simple leaves have papery and slightly fleshy leaf blades are usually oval to drop-shaped with shallowly toothed-margins, green above, light green below, 3.7–11 by 1.5–6 cm,, and with 2–4 glands on each side of the base where the leaf blade joins the petiole (leaf stalk).
Flowers The plant is dioecious, producing only male or female flowers on different individuals. The minute yellow flowers are borne on catkins at the axillary. The male flowers are scented, less than 1 mm in diameter, stalked, and arranged in many-flowered clusters on catkins that are 2–13 cm long. The female flowers are much smaller, stalked, and arranged on catkins that are 0.5–3 cm long.
Fruits The capsular fruits are almost round, 3-lobed, 4.5–5 by 8–9 mm, maturing from green to brown, and eventually splitting to release 3 seeds.
Habitat It grows in muddy and sandy habitats, often in areas with a high input of freshwater, or landward margins of mangrove forests. It occurs locally in all mangrove forests and in the vicinity of Kranji Reservoir.
Associated Fauna Its flowers are insect-pollinated. It is the preferred local food plant for the caterpillars of the moths, Achaea janatas, Iscadia pulchra, Selepa celtis, and of the genus Archips, Phyllocnistis, and Sauris.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed.
Etymology Latin excaecare, to blind, referring to the poisonous, white latex of the plants of this genus that is reputed to cause blindness; Latin agallocha, resembling agarwood (Aquilaria agallocha; now Aquilaria malaccensis)
Ethnobotanical Uses Medicinal ( The Burmese use the leaves to treat epilepsy. Oil distilled from the wood is applied to itch and skin infections in Malay folk medicine. The latex is mixed with coconut juice to treat pneumonia and asthma, and is also boiled to obtain an oily liquid that is used to treat skin diseases. The smoke from the burning wood is used to treat leprosy. The roots are pounded with ginger and used as an ointment for swelling on hands and feet.)
Timber & Products ( The wood is used as firewood, charcoal, and to make small furniture. However, the wood is not durable and produces unpleasant smoke when burnt. )
[Others]: The milky latex is poisonous, and is said to cause blindness, pain and blood in urination, and intestinal inflammation. It is used as poison on darts and arrows, and for the medicinal treatment of ulcers. The bark is chewed and used to treat constipation. 

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It may be suitable as a marsh plant for the edges of ponds. However, it should be planted out of the reach of the general public as its milky latex is poisonous and can cause blindness. The dying red leaves of the tree are rather attractive, giving the impression of autumnal colours, especially if there are many trees growing together.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage, Fragrant
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site, Does not Drain Site)
Landscape Uses Coastal, Beachfront / Shoreline, Riverine, Pond / Lake / River
Usage Hazard - Cons Irritant - Sap

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Caterpillar Moth Food Plant
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Lots of Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Papery
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Pink
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate, Spiral
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Elliptical)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Remarks Old leaf turn bright red.

Non - Foliar and Storage

Bark Colour(s) Grey

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Unisexual Flowers
Flower & Plant Sexuality 2 Dioecious
Flower Colour(s) Yellow / Golden
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Inflorescence Type Catkin

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 1600
Species ID 2893
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: 18 February 2022.