Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Avicennia alba Blume

Kingdom:Plantae
Phylum/Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Eudicots
Order:Lamiales
Family:Acanthaceae
Genus:Avicennia
Species:A. alba
Common Names:Api-api Putih
Status:Common

Description

Avicennia alba is a common mangrove tree in Singapore with smooth, dark grey bark. Leaves are lanceolated with a pointed tip, dark green above and white underneath. Leaf shapes can be very variable depending on the abiotic conditions in which the plant was grown in.

Flowers yellow. Fruits are distinctive—they are pale green, conical with a pronounced beak.

Size: Up to 20 m tall.

Read more about the Lamiales order.
Read more about the Acanthaceae family.

Localities

Admiralty Park, Berlayer Creek, Changi Creek, Chek Jawa,Khatib Bongsu, Kranji Nature Trail, Lim Chu Kang, Loyang, Mandai Mangroves, Pasir Ris Park, Pulau Semakau, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin, St John's Island, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

General Biology

Avicennia alba has an extensive lateral root system which spans many metres just below the soil surface, with the characteristic pencil-like breathing roots or pneumatophores that stick vertically out of the mud at regular intervals. These roots help the tree get enough oxygen as the mud is extremely poor in oxygen.

Avicennia alba is able to excrete salt by means of salt glands in their leaves. A small slit-like opening between the cuticle of the gland and that of the leaf is where the salt secretion takes place.

Found on newly-formed mud on the seaward side of the mangroves.

Life Cycle

Cyptovivipary occurs in Avicennia alba where the embryo germinates within the fruit but does not enlarge sufficiently to break through the fruit wall. The seedling bursts through the fruit wall immediately after release and so can grow as soon as it hits the ground.

Ecological Role

Pioneers of the mangroves.

Human Uses

The wood is used in house building, mine props, furniture, boat building, paneling and occasionally for charcoal making. It is also used to smoke fish or rubber. The wood ash can be used to make soap; the bark for tanning leather; and the leaves and seeds are edible, the latter only after roasting.

References

Chong, K. Y., H. T. W. Tan & R. T. Corlett, 2009. A Checklist of the Total Vascular Plant Flora of Singapore: Native, Naturalised and Cultivated Species. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, Singapore. 273 pp.

Corner, E. J. H., 1988.  Waysides Trees of Malaya.  Vol. 1-2.  Malayan Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. 

Sosef, M. S. M., L. T. Hong & S. Prawirohatmodjo, 1998. Plant Resources of South-East Asia - No. 5(3): Timber trees: Lesser Known Timbers. Bogor, Indonesia.

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