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Heritiera littoralis Aiton

Family Name: Malvaceae
Synonyms: Heritiera minor (Gaertn.) Lam.
Common Name: Dungun, Looking-Glass Tree, Mangrove Dungun, Keeled-Pod Mangrove, Atun Laut, Bayur Laut, Pelir Kambing, 银叶树
Full Sun Semi Shade Moderate Water Native to Singapore Herb or Spice Coastal Plant Suitable for Roadsides Ornamental Flowers Ornamental Leaves Aquatic 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 (Medium (16m-30m)), Aquatic & Hydrophyte (Waterside / Marginal)
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular


Native Distribution Tropical Africa, Madagascar, India, China, Taiwan, Indochina, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, Western Pacific
Native Habitat Shoreline (Mangrove Forest, Sandy Beach, Rocky Beach), Terrestrial (Riverine)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Endangered (EN))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a tree up to 25 m tall, low-branching and bushy tree.
Crown Crown shaggy, somewhat untidy-looking, with gnarled branches.
Trunk Bark whitish-gray to pinkish-gray, smooth, becoming flaky and fissured with age. 
Roots Prominent plank or ribbon buttress roots at base.
Foliage Its spirally arranged, stalked leaves have leathery and stiff leaf blades that are oblong-elliptical to egg-shaped-elliptical, margin entire or slightly wavy, dark green above, scaly silvery white to brown on the underside, and 6.3–30 by 3.8–15 cm.
Flowers The plant is monoecious. Its flowers are unisexual, in which each flower only has either the male or female sexual organ, dull purple, bell-shaped with 4–6 teeth, 6.3 mm wide, and in 5–18 cm, yellowish flower clusters inserted at the leaf axils.
Fruits Its fruits are woody, ellipsoid to oblong-egg-shaped, glossy brown or purple, 3.8–8 by 3–6 cm, and each possesses a keel on one side, and 1 seed. Its seeds are oblong-ellipsoid, flattened, brown, and about 3 cm long. Fruits may float on water for weeks and germinate after being stranded by high tide on suitable sites.
Habitat It grows in rocky and sandy shores, mangrove forests, and also on tidal river banks. It is known locally in various mangrove forests around Singapore.
Associated Fauna Large crabs, monkeys, and wild pigs eat its seeds.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed. It withstands periodic floods, however, it is not tolerant of highly-saline or very exposed sites.
Etymology Latin Heritiera, commemorates Charles Louis L’Heritier de Bautelle (1746–1800), a celebrated French botanist and author; Latin littoralis, of the seashore, referring to the habitat
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Seeds)
Food (Herb and Spice : The seed is eaten with fish as a substitute to the seeds of Parinarium glaberimum, and used as a substitute for cola.)
Medicinal ( A decoction of the root is used to treat mouth infection and toothache. An extract of the seed is used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery.)
Timber & Products ( The wood is used to stop bullets, and to make boat-ribs, bridges, building ships, canoes, firewood, furniture, house-posts, joists, masts, outriggers, rice pounders, rudders, telegraph poles, and wheel-hubs. Its wood is also used to build stockades, and is used to raise the thwarts of canoes. It is suitable for the production of wrapping, writing and printing paper.)
[Others]: Its twigs are used for toothbrushes. The bark is used for tanning, and is used for toughening fishing nets. The roots are used as fish poison.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It has attractive leaves, and can be grown along roads, coastal parks, or coasts as it can tolerate their hot, sunny, windy, and frequent salt spray conditions.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Foliage, Ornamental Fruits
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Saline Soils / Salt Spray
Landscape Uses Coastal, General, Riverine, Roadside Tree / Palm, Parks & Gardens, Beachfront / Shoreline
Thematic Landscaping Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic (Water)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun, Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green, Silver / Grey
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Leathery
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Brown
Young Flush Texture(s) Glossy / Shiny
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate, Spiral
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Elliptical, Oblong)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
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
Mature Bark Texture Fissured, Peeling / Flaking / Papery
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root), Aboveground (Buttress Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Unisexual Flowers
Flower & Plant Sexuality 2 Dioecious
Flower Colour(s) Pink, Purple
Flower Texture(s) Velvety / Furry / Tomentose
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Flower Symmetry Radial
Inflorescence Type Panicle
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown, Purple
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Leathery
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Indehiscent Dry Fruit

Image Repository



Master ID 1659
Species ID 2952
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: 26 August 2021.