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Avicennia alba


Avicennia alba

Family Name: Acanthaceae
Common Name: Api Api Putih, Api Api

Avicennia alba, also known as Api Api Putih, is an iconic tree of the mangrove forest. Standing at 20 m tall, the leaves excrete salt due to presence of salt glands. The tree develops pencil-like pneumatophores that protrude out of the soil allowing root respiration in the anaerobic muddy soil.


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
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
Maximum Height 20 m


Native Distribution South East Asia, including Singapore, Australia and the 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 Medium to large tree growing up to 20 m. 
Trunk Smooth, brownish black bark.
Roots Extensive lateral root system stretching just below the soil surface with pencil-like breathing roots, also known as pneumatophores, sticking vertically out of the muddy ground to take in oxygen. Pneumatophores may grow up to a height of 15 - 20 cm.
Foliage Oblong to lanceolate pointed leaves, smooth, glossy-green above and very pale under, 15 by 5 cm. Upper surface is covered with many glandular dots, able to excrete salt due to presence of salt glands in the leaves.
Flowers Yellow to orange flowers measuring 3 - 4 mm across, and usually in 10 - 30 flowered clusters that are 1.5 - 3 cm long. Upper half of ovary is usually hairy.
Fruit Pale green in colour, egg-shaped with a broad base and a pronounced beak, measuring up to 4 cm. All Avicennia spp. exhibits crytovivipary, in which the embryo germinates within the fruit but does not enlarge sufficiently to break through the fruit wall.
Habitat Usually found on newly-formed mud banks on the seaward side of mangrove forests. Avicennia spp. are usually pioneer species in newly formed mangrove forests.
Etymology Alba and putih, which means white in Latin and Malay respectively, are both used to describe the under side colour of the leaves. 
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts : Edible Fruits

Scientific Evidence of Medicinal Properties

Based on research on the effects of Avicennia alba on animals, it has these medicinal properties: antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic <2>.  

Traditional Medicinal Uses
In Asia, Avicennia alba is used in Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, to treat ulcers, skin diseases, asthma, rheumatism, scabies, antifertility agents, paralysis and snake bites <1> 

It is important to note that some therapeutic effects from traditional medicinal uses of plants are not currently supported or verified by scientific research. 

Timber & Products: Wood is used to build houses, furniture and boats. Bark can be used for tanning leather.

Landscaping Features

Landscape Uses Coastal, Riverine
SGMP Treatment

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

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

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun, Semi-Shade
Water Preference Lots of Water, Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Moist Soils, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Saline Soils / Salt Spray
Potential Problems Sooty mould and Avicennia seed moth.
Propagation Method Viviparious Propagule


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Cream / Off-White, Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Glossy / Shiny
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Lanceolate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Base Acute
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Remarks Greenish on the top side of leaf, whitish on the under side of leaf.

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Yellow / Golden
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Green - Light Green
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Leathery


References <1> Bandaranayake, W.M. (1998) Traditional and Medicinal Uses of Mangroves. Mangroves and Salt Marshes 2: 133-148.

<2> Mitra, S., et. al. (2022). Pharmacological potential of Avicennia alba leaf extract: An experimental analysis focusing on antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antidiarrheal activity. BioMed Research International: 1-10.

Image Repository



Master ID 1971
Species ID 3263
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: 05 June 2024.