11 June 2009

Lenggadai (Bruguiera parviflora) at Pasir Ris

Thanks to the excellent tips shared by Dr John Yong, I finally got to see this rare mangrove tree for myself. It's a large magnificent tree at Pasir Ris!
This endangered tree is rarely seen in our mangroves. It does not appear to grow well in Singapore with only few individuals and less than the 24m maximum height found elsewhere.

The oval stiff leaves (7-13cm) are light green with slender petioles, arranged opposite one another. The stipules are light green.
Flowers appear in groups of 2-5 per leaf angle. The calyx tube is ridged, with 8 slender, short lobes. Petals yellowish-green with 3 bristles on each lobe. According to Tomlinson, the small flowers are pollinated by day flying insects such as butterflies. The petals of the flower hold loose pollen and are under tension. When probed at the base, the petal unzips to scatter a cloud of pollen over the head of the visiting insect.
The propagule develops on the parent plant: thin, smooth and long hypocotyl (8-13cm long) slightly curved, and the calyx lobes clasping the propagule (not bent towards the stalk).
Bark grey fissured and slightly flanged base. Knee roots may be up to 30cm tall. From a slender shrub to small tree up to 5m, sometimes to 24m, in Singapore to about 15m tall.

According to Giersen, the heavy to very heavy timber is hard and strong, and easily worked and finishes well. But it is perishable when exposed or in contact with the ground, and often found in small size. It produces good charcoal, firewood and pulp. The germinating seedling is sometimes eaten as a vegetable.

This plant is listed as 'Endangered' on the Red List of threatened plants of Singapore. It is threatened by habitat degradation.

According to Ng, it was only seen at Pasir Ris Park, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Unum; individuals formerly recorded at Sungei Changi seem to have died out. According to Davison, it is found on Pulau Tekong, Sungei Buloh, Pasir Ris Park and the Western Catchment. According to Hsuan Keng, it was found in Jurong and Ulu Pandan.

According to Tomlinson, it is distributed throughout Southeast Asia from the Malay peninsula to tropical Australia, the New Hebrides and Solomon Islands. It is found in inner mangrove fringes and river banks and has characteristics of a pioneer species. It is noted to be a slow grower and has the shortest lifespan.

References
  • Lenggadai (Bruguiera parviflora) Ng, Peter K. L. & N. Sivasothi, 1999. A Guide to the Mangroves of Singapore I (Plant Diversity). Singapore Science Centre. 168 pp.
  • Giesen, Wim and Stephan Wulffraat, Max Zieren and Liesbeth Scholten. 2006. Mangrove Guidebook for Southeast Asia (PDF online downloadable). RAP publication 2006/07 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific Bangkok.
  • Hsuan Keng, S.C. Chin and H. T. W. Tan. 1990, The Concise Flora of Singapore: Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Singapore University Press. 222 pp.
  • Tomlinson, P. B., 1986. The Botany of Mangroves Cambridge University Press. USA. 419 pp.
  • Davison, G.W. H. and P. K. L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew, 2008. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore). 285 pp.
  • Burkill, I. H., 1993. A Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula. 3rd printing. Publication Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. Volume 1: 1-1240; volume 2: 1241-2444.

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