Herbs & Plants

Sonneratia apetala

Botanical Name: Sonneratia apetala
Family: Lythraceae
Subfamily: Sonneratioideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Myrtales
Genus: Sonneratia

Synonyms: Blatti James Edward Smith,Sonneratia acida, Ammania caseolaris

Common Names: Tak Keora,Crabapple Mangrove, Mangrove Apple, Firefly Mangrove, Berembang

Habitat: Sonneratia apetala is native to Coastal areas of Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. It grows in the upstream estuarine zones in the low to mid-intertidal regions, where it colonizes newly accreted mudflats of moderate to strongly saline conditions, often forming pure stands.

Sonneratia apetala is a fast-growing evergreen tree with a columnar crown; it can grow up to 15 metres tall with occasional specimens to 20 metres and a trunk 20 – 30cm in diameter. Plants grow 25 – 30 metres tall in Bangladesh. The tree produces pneumatophores (vertical roots arising above the ground from shallow, horizontal roots) up to 1.5 metres tall.

The tree is commonly harvested from the wild for a variety of local uses as food, medicine and a source of materials, whilst the wood is also traded nationally and the fruit is sold in local markets. It is a very important component of mangrove swamps and has been widely planted as a fast-growing species for the reforestation of mangrove communities.


Sonneratia apetala is common through most of its range, but there are increasing threats to mangrove swamps in general, mainly from human activities. Consequently, the tree has been classified as ‘Least Concern’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Sonneratia apetala is a plant of moist coastal areas in the tropics. It succeeds in areas where annual daytime temperatures range between 20 – 30°c, though it tolerates 10 – 35°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall of 1,650 – 1,800mm, tolerating 1,300 – 3,000mm, and succeeds in areas with no dry season as well as those with a dry season.

Requires a sunny position. Grows best in a heavy soil. The plant is usually found in silty-clay to sandt soils in the wild. Plants are very tolerant of saline conditions and maritime winds. Prefers a pH in the range 6.8 – 7.2, tolerating 6.5 – 7.5.

If the tree is damaged by strong winds then the crown usually recovers very quickly – if the tree is blown over then it usually recovers quickly by producing coppice shoots.

The plant usually starts producing seed when it is around 3 – 4 years old.
The flowers are nocturnal, opening in the evening and falling off in the morning.

Seed – it has a low viability of less than three months. The mature fruits should be harvested and then kept in sack for two weeks to allow the fleshy mesocarp to rot in order to collect the seeds. The fruits should then be gently crushed and the seeds, along with the debris, should be sown in a nursery bed. Germination usually takes 20 to 30 days. Pot up seedlings into containers of estuarine mud and water regularly. Plant out into permanent positions when around 50cm tall with at least 6 leaves.

Edible Uses:
Fruit. A sour flavour. They are used to make pickles and vinegar, and also as vegetables. The fruit is extensively consumed by coastal communities in Bangladesh.

Medicinal Uses:
The leaves are used both internally and externally to treat a range of conditions including hepatitis, dysentery, sprains and bruises, open sores and eye problems.

Both the fruits and the bark have remedial activity against asthma, fevers, ulcer, swelling, sprains, bleeding, haemorrhages and piles. They are also used in the treatment of heart troubles.

The fruits have antioxident, antibacterial, antifungal and astringent activity.
The fruit juice is used as tonic and to treat diarrhoea.
Traditionally fruits are used to treat gastrointestinal disorders.

The seeds and pericarp have anthocyanins that limit the development of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes.

The bark extract has shown moderate antiinflamatory activity.

Other Uses:
The reddish brown wood is fine-grained, moderately strong, moderately heavy with a specific gravity 0.54 (air dried), and durable. It is suitable for structures requiring moderate strength though it is not suitable for quality furniture. It is used for making lower-grade furniture and also for boat building, panelling, board and box manufacturing. It is also used as raw material in match industry for the production of match sticks.
The pneumatophores are used for cork manufacturing and also for decorative purposes.
The wood is widely used locally as a fuel.

A very important tree in the coastal swamp community, helping to protect the soil from erosion and providing an important habitat for wildlife.
It is a fast-growing, pioneering species that colonizes on newly formed mudflats, and has been widely planted for the reforestation of mangrove communities and stabilization of newly acreted mud flats.
The flowers are a good source of nectar for bees.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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