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Avicennia officinalis L.

Indian mangrove

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 unpublished.

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


The wood, used to construct boats, houses, and wharves has been studied as a pulp source, and the bark and roots are used for tanning. The bark is used for dying cloth, the ash for washing it in India (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk 1962). Javanese and others may consume the bitter fruits and seeds after rather elaborate processing. Branches are lopped and given to cattle for fodder. The wood has been recommended for creosoted paving blocks. Its wood is attractive enough of grain to be useful in cabinetry.

Folk Medicine

According to Hartwell (1967–1971), the fruits are plastered onto tumors in India. Indian mangrove is a folk remedy for boils and tumors (Duke and Wain, 1981). Kirtikar and Basu (1975) suggest that the roots are aphrodisiac. Unripe seeds are poulticed onto abscesses, boils, and smallpox sores. Indochinese use the bark for skin afflictions, especially scabies. According to Perry (1980), quoting other sources, "A resinous substance exuded from the bark acts as a contraceptive, and apparently can be taken all year long without ill effects. Philippines use the seed for ulcers, the resin for snakebite."


Tanganyikan wood specimens (zero moisture basis) contained 54.7% cellulose, 2.3% ash (C.S.I.R., 1948–1976). The wood ash is said to be rich in alkali. A green, bitter, medicinal resin oozes from the bark. Bark contains tannin and lapachol (Perry, 1980), but the tannin content may be only 2.5% (C.S.I.R., 1948–1976).


Evergreen tree, sometimes to 25 m, trunk to 1 m in diameter. Numerous upright pneumatophores rise above soil from long shallow, horizontal roots. Bark brownish-gray, thin, becoming rough and blackish, or outer bark yellowish-green and inner bark whitish. Leaves opposite obovate or broadly oblong, 4–12 cm long, 2–6 cm wide, rounded at tip, acute or rounded at base, thick, leathery, edges slightly rolled under, upper surfaces shiny green and hairless, underneath with fine gray-green hairs and resin dots. Cymes headlike in panicles, upright near ends of twigs, to 15 cm long and wide. Flowers many 2–12 together, sessile, malodorous, 7–10 mm long, 12–15 mm across. Calyx 5-lobed, hairy on edges, with resin dots; corolla bell-shaped, tubular, yellow or yellow-brown, turning orange, with 4 unequal spreading lobes, stamens 4, inserted in notches of corolla tube; ovary conical, hairy, imperfectly 4-celled with 4 ovules, style threadlike; stigma 2-forked. Capsule broadly ovoid, flattened, 2.5 cm long. Seed 1, large, flattened, without seed coat, germinating in water (Little, 1983).


Reported from the African, Australian, Hindustani, and Indonesian-Indochina Centers of Diversity, Indian mangrove, or cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate alkali, disease, insects, high pH, pest, salt, and waterlogging (NAS, 1980a; Little, 1983).


Coasts of southern Asia to Australia and Oceania. From East Pakistan, Tanasserim, Andaman Islands, and Sri Lanka through coasts of Vietnam, Thailand, and Peninsular Malaysia to the Philippines, Sumatra, Madura, Java, Borneo, Celebes, Sunda Islands, Molucca Islands, and New Guinea; south in Australia to New South Wales. Near sea level, to 50 m in Papua. Not widely introduced elsewhere (Little, 1983).


Estimated to range from Tropical Moist to Wet through Subtropical Moist to Wet Forest Life Zones, Indian mangrove is estimated to tolerate annual precipitation of 10 to 45 dm, annual temperature of 20 to 26°C, and pH of 6 to 8.5. Mostly on brackish or saline silts of depositing shores and marshes.


According to the NAS (1980a), planting is usually not needed because natural regeneration is so successful. In Avicennia and Rhizophora direct seeding result 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

Good mangrove stands can show annual productivity of 10–20(-25) MT/ha/yr, but for firewood purposes, I would reduce that to 10–20(-25) m3/ha/yr, figuring that at optimal rather than average. Because of the heaviness of the wood, a cubic meter of mangrove is generally more valuable than other species. Litterfall may account for 1/3–1/2 of aboveground productivity.


Brittle wood used for firewood.

Biotic Factors

No data uncovered.


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