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Sonneratia ovata Backer

Family Name: Lythraceae
Common Name: Gedabu, Kedabu, Mangrove Apple
Full Sun Lots of Water Bird-Attracting Plant Native to Singapore Fruit or Vegetable Coastal Plant Ornamental Flowers 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))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular
Maximum Height 20 m


Native Distribution China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Riau Archipelago, Java, South Sulawesi, the Moluccas, and South-east New Guinea
Native Habitat Shoreline (Mangrove 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 20 m tall, with up to 0.2 m tall upright, breathing roots (pneumatophores) at its base.
Roots The upright breathing roots (pneumatophores) are up to 0.2 m tall.
Foliage Its opposite, shortly-stalked leaves have leaf blades that are shiny dark green, usually broadly egg-shaped to nearly circular, and 4–10 by 3–9 cm.
Flowers Its apetalous flowers are found singly or up to 3 together, with the interiors of its sepals tinged red. Its flowers open at dusk, giving off a smell of sour milk, and last for one night.
Fruits Its green fruits are somewhat pear-shaped berries, 3–4.8 cm wide, and contain many seeds. Its buoyant, water-dispersed seeds are tiny, white, flattened, and embedded in the fruit’s fleshy pulp.
Habitat It grows in the brackish-water area, and muddy soil at the landward edge of mangrove forests. It occurs locally in Kranji, Pulau Ubin, Pasir Ris, Pulau Tekong, Sungei Mandai Kechil, and Sungei Pandan.
Associated Fauna Its flowers are visited by fruit bats and honeybirds. It is the preferred local food plant for caterpillars of the moths Eucosma, Taurometopa pyrometalla and Zeuzera conferta.
Cultivation It is propagated by seed.
Etymology Latin Sonneratia, commemorating Pierre Sonnerat (1749–1841), French botanist and explorer; Latin ovata, egg-shaped, referring to the shape of the leaf blades
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : The edible fruits are used as substitutes for vinegar.)
Medicinal ( The fruit is used as poultices to treat sprains, while their fermented juice is used to test for haemorrhages.)
Timber & Products ( The timber, though of limited value, is used as firewood.)
[Others]: The bark contains tannin of minimal quantities to be used commercially. It is planted in coastal areas to control erosion of tidal river banks.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping This tree is suitable for sites that are poorly drained, or exposed to seawater. It has an attractive dark green, compact crown, and large fruit. It may be grown at the edges of ponds or reservoirs.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Fruits
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Waterlogged Soils (Does not Drain Site)
Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens, Coastal, Beachfront / Shoreline, Riverine, Pond / Lake / River, Marsh / Bog
Thematic Landscaping Naturalistic Garden, Water Garden, Marsh Garden

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting, Bat Food, 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
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) White
Flower Grouping Solitary
Flower Location Terminal

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Green
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Leathery
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Fleshy Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Non-Accessory Fruit

Image Repository



Master ID 30431
Species ID 4740
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: 17 August 2022.