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Avicennia marina (Forsk.) Vierh.

Grey mangrove

Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.

  1. Uses
  2. Folk Medicine
  3. Chemistry
  4. Toxicity
  5. Description
  6. Germplasm
  7. Distribution
  8. Ecology
  9. Cultivation
  10. Harvesting
  11. Yields and Economics
  12. Energy
  13. Biotic Factors
  14. References


Heavy even-textured wood used for poles and ribs of boats. Bark yields a brown dye. Leaves are used for camel fodder around the Red Sea. Branches are lopped and fed to cattle in India and Australia.

Folk Medicine

According to Lewis and Elvin-Lewis (1977), the tree possesses a bitter aromatic juice, used as an abortive in tropical Africa and Asia. Root and bark are used as aphrodisiac, the wood for snakebite, the aqueous extract of the seed for sores. Unripe fruits are poulticed onto wounds and leaves onto skin ailments (List and Horhammer, 1969–1979).


Bark and roots contain tannin, the bark with lapachol (C15H14O3) the compound supposedly responsible for the overblown virtues of "lapacho" (Tabebuia spp. from Brazil).


Lapachol is an allergic sensitizer.


Evergreen shrub or small tree 1–10 m high, trunk to 40 cm in diameter. Numerous upright pneumatophores 10–15 cm high and 6 mm in diameter. Trunk often with masses of small air roots but no prop or stilt roots. Bark whitish to grayish or yellow-green, smooth, often powdery with raised dots, scaly, exposing greenish inner bark. Leaves opposite, ovate, lanceolate to elliptical, 3.5–12 cm long, 1.5–5 cm wide, mostly acute at both ends, entire, thick leathery, shiny green and hairless upper surface, pale whitish-gray and finely hairy underneath. Petiole 5–10 mm long, hairy. Heads or cymes ball-like, upright on long stalks at ends and sides of twigs. Flowers few to many, sessile, 4 mm long, 5 mm across. Calyx 5-lobed, green, hairy, persistent; corolla tubular, white.turning yellow or orange with 4 nearly equal, short lobes (Little, 1983).


Reported from the African, Australian, Indonesian-Indochina Centers of Diversity, grey mangrove, or cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate disease,insects, light frost, pests, salt waterlogging (NAS, 1980a; Little, 1983). Little mentions five varieties, differing in leaf, flower, and geography.


Coasts of East and South Africa, southern Asia, Australia, and Oceania. From Egypt and Arabia along shores of Red Sea and western Indian Ocean, eastward along shores of Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, southeastern and eastern Indian Ocean, South China Sea north to Hong Kong and Taiwan, and islands of the Philippine Sea, Coral Sea, and South Pacific to Western Australia and New Zealand. Not widely introduced (Little, 1983).


Estimated to range from Tropical Moist to Wet through Subtropical Moist to Wet Forest Life Zones, grey mangrove is estimated to tolerate annual precipitation of 10 to 45 dm, annual temperature of 17 to 26°C, and pH of 6 to 8.5. Often a pioneer in muddy areas, this species, intolerant of shade, cannot succeed itself. Mostly on saline silts of depositing shores and marshes (Little, 1983).


According to the NAS (1980a), planting is usually not needed because natural regeneration is so successful. In Avicennia and Rhizophora, direct seeding results in ca 90% survival.


Since this mangrove can regrow rapidly from buds beneath the bark along the trunk and branches, it is said to suffer little from removal of much of the branchwood (NAS, 1980a).

Yields and Economics

This small tree could not be quite so productive as other mangroves, though I estimate 10 MT/ha year is possible.


Used for firewood and fuel for lime kilns.

Biotic Factors

No data uncovered.


Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
Last update December 30, 1997