Xylocarpus rumphii

Xylocarpus rumphii

Nyireh Nyireh Meliaceae
Xylocarpus-rumphii-01
Nyireh , Xylocarpus rumphii

Features: A tall tree (8-10m). Leaves are oval to nearly heart-shaped with prominent veins. The young fruits are small and appear in clusters. Unripe fruits are shiny green, turning brown and splitting when ripe to release 5-20 seeds. The seeds are irregularly angular. The bark is fissured and the tree doesn’t have specialised roots (no buttress roots or pneumatophores). The roots clasp the boulders and rocks on the rocky shore.

Human uses: According to Giesen, among its uses are the wood for handles of traditional knives (kris) and in building boats, the bark for tanning and dyeing cloth. The seeds are used to treat stomachache.

Status and threats: The tree is listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the Red List of threatened plants of Singapore.

Xylocarpus-rumphii-02

Xylocarpus moluccensis



Xylocarpus moluccensis Cannonball mangrove Nyiri batu Meliaceae

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Xylocarpus moluccensis

 Cannonball mangrove, nyiri batu, Xylocarpus moluccensis

Tree 5-20m tall. Compound leaf comprising 2-3 pairs of leaflets (4-12cm long) that are oblong with more pointed tips, thin and leathery. The compound leaves are arranged in a spiral and wither to a vivid yellow. Flowers tiny white to pinkish in clusters on an inflorescence. Fruit elliptical (8-12cm in diameter) containing 5-10 seeds. Bark with longitudinal fissures, small or no buttress roots, many peg-shaped (blunt-tipped, nearly cylindrical) pneumatophores.

Human uses: The timber is moderately light and soft, but strong and seasons well. It is used in construction of houses and boats. In Java, also for the handles of traditional daggers called ‘kris’. It is also used as firewood. Traditional medicinal uses include the seeds for treating stomachaches, fruits to increase appetite, bark tannin for intestinal lailments. The bark is also used to tan fishing nets.

 Cannonball mangrove, nyiri batu, Xylocarpus moluccensis

Xylocarpus granatum

Xylocarpus granatum

Cannon-ball tree Nyireh bunga Meliaceae
Nyireh bunga, Xylocarpus granatum, Cannon-ball tree
Nyireh bunga, Xylocarpus granatum, Cannon-ball tree

It is common in all Malayan mangroves. According to Hsuan Keng, it was found in mangroves including Kranji, Serangoon, Pulau Seletar. It was also known as Carpa obovata. Other Malay names for it include ‘Nireh’ and ‘Nyireh Udang’.

Features: A tree 3-8m tall. Compound leaf comprising 2-4 leaflets (4.5-17cm long) that are oblong (tip rounded rather than sharp), thick and leathery. The compound leaves are arranged in a spiral and wither to an orange red. Bark smooth, reddish, flaking off in patches, revealing greenish new bark so the overall appearance is blotchy and resembles the camouflaged uniforms used by soldiers. Trunk base often enlarged with well-developed buttresses forming narrow ribbon-like undulations extending away from the trunk.

Flowers tiny white to pinkish in clusters on an inflorescence. According to Tomlinson, the flower has a “strong but pleasant scent”. Bees are recorded as flower visitors and the shape of the flower suggests it is pollinated by short-tongued insects. It appears to bloom seasonally, with X. granatum trees on various shores in Singapore blooming at the same time.

Fruit globular and large (10-25cm in diameter) like a cannon-ball or bowling-ball, brown with corky seeds. There are usually 8-10 seeds in a single fruit, although 20 seeds have been recorded. The fruits develop rapidly, usually only one fruit per inflorescence. The fruit can finally weigh 2-3kgs! When ripe, the fruit splits open and/or drops off the tree and shatters, releasing the seeds which float away. The seeds may start to germinate as they float. ‘Granatum’ means ‘full of seeds’. The angular seeds fit perfectly inside the round fruit. But once spilled from the fruit, the seeds are hard to fit back together. So the tree is sometimes called the ‘Puzzle nut’ mangrove or ‘Monkey puzzle’ tree.

Human uses: According to Burkill, it is produces a timber valued in making boats, houses and furniture. It is also valued as firewood. The bark is so popular in tanning and tougening fishing nets that “in one part of Java, it is rare to find a tree which has not been peeled.” The bark is dark outside and bright red within, and so thin that a tree yields very little of it. Medicinal uses include the bark for dysentery, roots in a secret recipe against cholera, and the seeds for various ailments.

Xylocarpus-granatum

Thespesia populnea

Thespesia populnea Portia Tree Baru laut Malvaceae

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Thespesia populnea

 Portia Tree, baru laut, Thespesia populnea

Its leaves turn yellow seasonally.
It is the host of the Cotton Stainer Bug (Dysdercus decussatus), and the plant was eradicated in many cotton-growing areas to eliminate this insect.
Uses as food: The fruits, flowers and young leaves are edible.
Other uses: The timber is hard, termite-resistant, has an attractive grain and dark-red colour, and is naturally oily so it can be highly polished (thus it is also called Pacific Rosewood). But the timber is often twisted and rarely found in large pieces so it makes only small items. As the timber does not impart a flavour, it is often used to carve wooden food bowls and food utensils in Hawaii.
The tough fibrous bark is made into rope (Hawaii and elsewhere) but is not as good for this purpose as Sea Hibiscus is. The bark is also used to caulk boats (Malay). Cork is made from the inner bark.
A yellow dye is obtained from the flower and fruits, and a red one from the bark and heartwood.
Other products extracted from the plant includes tannin, oil and gums (a dark red resin exudes from the bark). A fast growing shrub that grows into a small tree with spreading branches, it casts welcome shade and in Hawaii were planted near homes for this purpose. In India, they were planted to provide shade in coffee and tea plantations.
Traditional medicinal uses: Ground up bark is used to treat skin diseases (India), dysentery and haemorrhoids (Mauritius). Leaves are applied to inflamed and swollen joints (South India). When cut, the young fruit secretes a yellow sticky sap used to treat ringworm and other skin diseases (South India). Roots are used as a tonic. There is some modern investigation of the plant’s effects on high blood pressure.

 Portia Tree, baru laut, Thespesia populnea

Stachytarpheta urticifolia

Stachytarpheta urticifolia nettleleaf velvetberry   Stachytarphetaceae

nettleleaf velvetberry, Stachytarpheta urticifolia

 

Stachytarpheta urticifolia

nettleleaf velvetberry, Stachytarpheta urticifolia

Tea is a weedy annual (and sometimes perennial) herbaceous plant that grows 60–120 cm tall. It bears small reddish-purple to deep blue flowers that grow along tall bracts that are favored by butterflies. It is indigenous to most parts of tropical America and, although some consider it a semi-invasive weed, it is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental plant for its blue flowers and deeply-serrated, dark green leaves. Brazilian Tea belongs to the large Verbenaceae family, which comprises about 100 genera and 2,600 species (including the common vervain and verbena plants). It is often referred to as Bastard Vervain or Wild Verbena. Two very similar species of Stachytarpheta grow in the tropics and are used interchangeably (and share the same common names) in many countries’ herbal medicine systems — S. cayennensis and S. jamaicensis.

Spinifex hirsutus

Spinifex hirsutus beach spinifex   Poaceae

beach spinifex, Spinifex hirsutus

 

Spinifex hirsutus

beach spinifex, Spinifex hirsutus

Spinifex grass is a species of grass that is found in wet areas, usually on the coast. The grass is native to Australia and grows about 30 centimetres tall. The roots of spinifex grass are very strong and go quite deep into the earth. The edges of spinifex are sharp and can produce cuts if you grab them forcefully. If you live on the coast you may have seen spinifex grass before, it’s the grass that sits on top of sand dunes at the beach.
Spinifex uses

Spinifex grass is important as it stops sand from blowing away. The powerful roots keep the sand in place. Spinifex is often deliberately planted on the fronts of dunes to stop the beaches from eroding (wearing away).

Sesuvium portulacastrum

Sesuvium portulacastrum sea purslane Krokot laut Aizoaceae

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Sesuvium portulacastrum

sea purslane, krokot laut, Sesuvium portulacastrum

Sesuvium portulacastrum, commonly known as shoreline purslane or (ambiguously) “sea purslane”, is a sprawling perennial herb that grows in coastal areas throughout much of the world.
It grows as a sprawling perennial herb up to 30 centimetres (12 in) high, with thick, smooth stems up to 1 metre (3.3 ft) long. It has smooth, fleshy, glossy green leaves that are linear or lanceolate, from 10–70 millimetres (0.39–2.8 in) long and 2–15 millimetres (0.079–0.59 in) wide. Flowers are pink or purple.
It grows in sandy clay, coastal limestone and sandstone, tidal flats and salt marshes, throughout much of the world. It is native to Africa, Asia, Australia, North America and South America, and has naturalised in many places where it is not indigenous

sea purslane, krokot laut, Sesuvium portulacastrum

Scyphiphora hydrophyllacea

Scyphiphora hydrophyllacea chengam Cinggam Rubiaceae

Scyphiphora-hydrophyllacea

 

Scyphiphora hydrophyllacea

chengam, singgam, Scyphiphora hydrophyllacea

A shrub up to 3m. Leaves spoon shaped with smooth, oval-shaped tips, leathery (3-5cm long), shiny green and held upright, arranged opposite one another. Old leaves are yellow then turn shiny pink. Terminal bud and young leaves coated in a varnish-like substance. Flowers in dense clusters about 3-4cm across. Corolla with four white curving lobes and a short pink tube. Nectar is secreted at the base of the tube which is accessible to short-tongued insects. Fruit oblong with 6-8 ridges, first green then white. The outer layer of the fruit is fleshy with a corky inner layer. The fruit separates into two halves when ripe. Each fruit contains 4 or fewer seeds. The fruits float because of the spongy inner layer. Twigs reddish when young. Bark greyish black, ridged and fissured.
Sometimes mistaken for Teruntum (Lumnitzera sp.), which has its leaves arranged in a spiral.
Human uses: According to Giesen, the wood may be used to make household objects such as spoons, while larger pieces are used for fence posts and firewood. The leaves are used to treat stomach problems.

chengam, singgam, Scyphiphora hydrophyllacea

Scaevola taccada

Scaevola taccada half-flowers Batang lampung Goodeniaceae

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Scaevola taccada

Batang lampung, half flowers, Scaevola taccada

Common names for Scaevola species include scaevolas, fan-flowers, half-flowers, and naupaka, the plant’s Hawaiian name. The flowers are shaped as if they have been cut in half. Consequently, the generic name means “left-handed” in Latin. Many legends have been told to explain the formation of the naupaka’s unique half flowers. In one version a woman tears the flower in half after a quarrel with her lover. The Gods, angered, turn all naupaka flowers into half flowers and the two lovers remained separated while the man is destined to search in vain for another whole flower.
Scaevola is the only Goodeniaceae genus that is widespread outside of Australia. In at least six separate dispersals, about 40 species have spread throughout the Pacific Basin, with a few reaching the tropical coasts of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
Beach Naupaka (Scaevola taccada synonym S. sericea) occurs throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans and is considered an invasive species in Florida, USA, and in some islands of the Caribbean including the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas. Beachberry or Inkberry (Scaevola plumieri) is widespread along the Atlantic coast of the tropical Americas and Africa; however, it is becoming rarer in areas where S. taccada is displacing native coastal plants.
Most Australian Scaevola have dry fruits and sprawling, herbaceous to shrubby habits. By contrast, nearly all species outside Australia have shrub habits with fleshy fruit making dispersal by frugivores easy.

Batang lampung, half flowers, Scaevola taccada

Pouteria obovata

Pouteria obovata coppery tree   Sapotaceae

Pouteria-obovata

 

Pouteria obovata

coppery tree, Pouteria obovata

Small to medium-sized tree, to about 18m tall. The bark is ridged and fissured but not flaky, with low, sharp spreading buttresses. Crown is conical and appears coppery. This is because the twigs, buds, leaf stalks and undersides of the young leaves are rusty brown and scrufy. Leaves (15-25cm) upward pointing and spaced out along the twig (not in dense rosettes). The leaf shape varies, usually oval, slightly leathery dull green above and coppery brown below, arranged alternately. Flowers tiny (less than 1cm) greenish white, appearing in clusters in the leaf axils. The flowers are said to smell like pandan. Fruits small (1-1.2cm) and oval.
Ecology
This coppery tree is often seen on our wild shores: natural cliffs, rocky and sandy shores as well as secondary forests. In the wild, it originally also grew in the back mangroves.
Distribution
Coastal regions from Japan, to Taiwan, Vietnam, Peninsular Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines to Papua New Guinea, Australia and western Pacific. Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo (throughout the island).
Uses According to Burkill, the timber is heavy, pinkish brown and used for cabinet making and carving. The leaves are used in treatment for stomach ache, chest pains and poultices for lumbago.

coppery tree, Pouteria obovata