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Avicennia marina


Avicennia marina (Forssk.) Vierh.

Family Name: Acanthaceae
Synonyms: Avicennia intermedia Griff., Avicennia mindanaense Elmer
Common Name: Api-api Jambu

Avicennia marina, also known as Api-api Jambu, is a mangrove tree. Unlike other species, the young branches of Api-api Jambu is distinctly square shaped. The fruit is greyish green with a short beak at the tip.


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
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Common Names
Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Big (>30m), Medium (16m-30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 30 m


Native Distribution South East Asia, including Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, East Africa, India, Pacific Islands.
Native Habitat Shoreline (Mangrove Forest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Endangered (EN))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Medium to large tree growing up to 30 m. 
Trunk Smooth, or slightly flaky grey trunk.
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 Elliptic or oblong-obovate leaves with a round tip, pale green lower surface and measuring up to 9 by 4.5 cm. Upper surface is covered with glandular dots.
Stems Cross section of small branches or stems will show a characteristic square shape, unlike other Avicennia species which are rounded.
Flowers Small, regular, orange to dark orange flowers measuring 5 - 8 mm, waxy surface, terminal flower clusters usually have about 2 - 12 flowers. Corolla has 4 equal lobes, ovary has a short style and a median ring of hairs that do not conceal the stigma.
Fruit Light green in colour, ovoid in shape with a broad base and sharp apical beak, measuring about 2 cm across. 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 Found on riverbanks, mouth of rivers, lagoons, rocky beaches and lower tidal areas. Avicennia species are usually pioneer species in newly formed mangrove forests.
Etymology Api, means fire in Malay. This is usually associated to fireflies as they can sometimes be seen congregating around this species.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts : Edible Fruits
Medicinal: Leaves are used to treat burns and bark resin is used as a contraceptive.
Timber & Products: Wood is used to build houses, furniture, boats and firewood. Bark can be used for tanning leather.

Landscaping Features

Landscape Uses Coastal, Riverine

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 Lots of Water, Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Moist Soils, Waterlogged Soils, Saline Soils / Salt Spray


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green - Light Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Glossy / Shiny, Leathery
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire

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

Image Repository



Master ID 32048
Species ID 6453
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: 01 August 2022.