Botanical Name: Aegialitis rotundifolia
Common Names: Tora, Aegialitis
The two species of the genus are native to Southeast Asia and Australia, but their distribution ranges do not overlap. A. annulata is found along the northern coasts of Australia from Western Australia through the Northern Territory and into Queensland and along the coastline of Papua New Guinea. A. rotundifolia is found on the shorelines of the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal from Orissa to Mergui and on the Andaman Islands.
The distribution of these two species with respect to the other members of the Plumbaginaceae is suggestive of the evolutionary history and phylogenetic placement of Aegialitis. Several authors have discovered evidence for three distinct southern migrations of this mostly Northern Hemisphere family, the first of which remained isolated and evolved into the existing members of this genus. This hypothesized migration and evolutionary history explains the more primitive breeding system characteristics and morphology in this genus in relation to the rest of the family.
As with other mangrove species, the habitat preferred by the members of this genus are sandy or rocky soils in the more saline environment of the mangroves toward the sea. The species are thus halophytic.
The two species of the genus are woody mangrove shrubs or small trees that grow up to 2 to 3 m tall. The deciduous species have leafy stems with leathery leaves arranged alternately or spirally. The leaf margins are entire and have parallel veins.
The hermaphroditic flowers are pollinated by Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, and Diptera. Flowers are arranged in terminal cymose racemous inflorescences. Individual flowers have five sepals arranged in a fused tube around the white gamopetalous corolla that has five petals fused into a short tube. The androecium consists of five stamens that are attached near the base of the corolla tube. The superior gynoecium has five carpels, each with a 1-celled pistil and unilocular ovaries. Fruit are dehiscent and have a spongy mesocarp.
Unlike other mangrove species, the members of Aegialitis generally do not have aerial roots.
Cultivation & propagation: Through seeds.
The leaves of this species is traditionally used as an antidote for insect bites and treatment of pains but no scientific studies have been conducted on its pharmacognostical aspects.
The bark is a source of tannins. It is used for preserving rope. The bark contains around 11% tannin on a dry weight basis.The wood is used as firewood. The plant protects soil erotion.
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