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Barringtonia racemosa

Barringtonia racemosa Blanco2.240-cropped.jpg
Plate from Flora de Filipinas [...] Gran edicion [...] [Atlas II]..., 1880-1883?

Common Names

Brackishwater Mangrove ([1]), Freshwater Mangrove ([2]).



Name ref

Barringtonia racemosa (L.) Spreng.

Origin of Name

Genus named in honour of the English lawyer, antiquary, and naturalist, the Honourable Daines Barrington (1727-1800), Vice President of the Royal Society and reknowned free thinker who published diverse works including authorative accounts on the language of birds. ‘Racemosa’ means raceme (in Latin), and refers to the distinctive long-stalked inflorescence of this species ([3]).


Barringtonia racemosa is a tree growing 10 - 30 m tall with large leaves clustered at the end of branches and long spikes of mostly white flowers. In Australia, it is restricted to northern Queensland and Christmas Island. It is also found in tropical rainforests.

Species Feature - Flowers on long racemes.


P026039 Barringtonia racemosa.jpg
Barringtonia racemosa inflorescence © CSIRO

Barringtonia racemosa is a tree growing 10 - 30 m in height with grey bark, a simple trunk base and roots that are not often above ground.

The leaves are alternate, simple, obovate, elliptic or lanceolate in shape, with pointed tips and often tightly clustered at the end of branches. They are 10 - 40 cm long and 5 - 8 cm wide with 1 - 15 cm long petioles.

The inflorescence is a terminal or axillary spike which is 20 - 80 cm long with many flowers. The flowers have 2 - 5 calyx lobes, 4 whitish petals and numerous white, pale yellow, or deep pink filaments. The fruit is a 4-sided egg-shaped capsule 5 - 9 cm long and 3 - 4 cm wide. It appears to be crypto-viviparous ([4],[1], [2]).

Botanical Description


Small tree to 10 m, columnar; bark grey, slightly fissured, lenticels notable as short vertical fissures; stem simple without basal support structures; roots not often above ground.


Leaves alternate, simple, often clustered tightly at the ends of branches, obovate-lanceolate, 20-30 cm L, 5-8 cm W, tapered below to the short somewhat fleshy petiole, margins usually toothed; petiole to 1 cm L.


Inflorescence terminal or axillary, raceme, pendulous spikes with many flowers, 40-50 cm L; pedicels to 5 cm L; flowers 2 cm L; calyx lobes 3-4, valvate, green, glabrous; petals 4, white to 3 cm L; filaments numerous, white, pink or yellow-tipped; style slender filiform, pink; fruit 4-sided carpel enclosing 1 propagule, longer than wide, pointed at each end, 5-7 cm L, 3-4 cm W, seemingly crypto-viviparous.


Hypocotyl rudimentary, capsule persistent, buoyant, cotyledons and radical undeveloped.


Flora of Australia Online Description


Barringtonia racemosa is distributed across Indo-Malaya to Polynesia and Australasia. In Australia, it is restricted to north Queensland in freshwater-dominated estuaries from the Jardine River (10° 55' S, 142° 13’ E) in the north-west, to the Murray River (18° 05' S, 146° 01’ E) in the south-east [3]). It is also found on Christmas Island ([4]).

Mid intertidal, upstream estuarine position [3]).

Localities (not complete):


Generally, B. racemosa is abundant in upstream areas of tidal rivers. In eastern Australia, the species is restricted to river-dominated tropical estuaries subject to high rainfall (>2500 mm annual) where it often forms undercanopy stands in association with Sonneratia caseolaris and Bruguiera sexangula ([3]).


Flowers have been observed from December to January, and fruit matures from February to March ([1]).

Flowers open at night and are pollinated by nocturnal, flying animals ([1]).

Often forms undercanopy stands with Sonneratia caseolaris and Bruguiera sexangula ([1]).


The bark and crushed fruit contain saponins which can be used to poison fish ([1]).

Similar Species

Barringtonia racemosa is similar to Barringtonia asiatica which can be found in beach environments in north Queensland. B. asiatica has more rounded leaves, larger flowers which occur in small bunches and larger fruit ([2]).

Barringtonia racemosa is distinguished from its closest relatives by leaves that wither red and bears numerous flowers (compared with B. conoidea Griff.), and smaller 4-angled fruits (compared with B. asiatica (L.) Kurz) ([3]).



Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants: http://keys.trin.org.au:8080/key-server/data/0e0f0504-0103-430d-8004-060d07080d04/media/Html/taxon/Barringtonia_racemosa.htm

Aluka: http://www.aluka.org/action/showCompilationPage?doi=10.5555/AL.AP.COMPILATION.PLANT-NAME-SPECIES.BARRINGTONIA.RACEMOSA

Cheek, M. (2008). Barringtonia racemosa, South African National Biodiversity Institute PlantzAfrica.com, South Africa. Available online: http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantab/barringrac.htm

Lovelock, C. (2003). Freshwater Mangrove ( Barringtonia racemosa ). Field Guide to the Mangroves of Queensland. Australian Institute of Marine Science. Available online: http://www.aims.gov.au/pages/reflib/fg-mangroves/pages/fgm-4445.html

450px-Barringtonia racemosa flowers close.JPG
Flower of Barringtonia racemosa, Africa.
Image: Michaelwild

Barringtonia racemosa roots enhanced.jpg
Stem and roots of Barringtonia racemosa, Africa.
Image: Michaelwild

450px-Barringtonia racemosa flowers.JPG
Inflorescence of Barringtonia racemosa, Africa.
Image: Michaelwild

Barringtonia racemosa new leaves.JPG
New leaves of Barringtonia racemosa, Africa.
Image: Michaelwild

Barringtonia racemosa young leaves.JPG
Young leaves of Barringtonia racemosa, Africa.
Image: Michaelwild

-- NormDuke and EmmaClifton - 2011-11-25


  1. Duke, N.C. (2006). Australia's Mangroves. The authoritative guide to Australia's mangrove plants. University of Queensland, Brisbane. (more)
  2. Lovelock, C. (1993). Field Guide to the Mangroves of Queensland. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Qld. Available online: http://www.aims.gov.au/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=c9dcfc2e-6018-4302-8818-5ab3fe01f91f&groupId=30301 (more)
  3. Duke, N. (2011). Mangroves of Australia. Manuscript. Vers.: 27 Sept 2011. (more)
  4. Du Puy, D.J and Telford, I.R.H. (1993). Mecythidaceae. Flora of Australia 50: 155-157. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra. (more)
  5. Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA)(2010). Christmas Island National Park. Available at: http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/christmas/index.html (more)
  6. Bunt, J.S. (1982b). Mangrove Transect Data from Northern Queensland. Coastal Studies Series, Australian Institute of Marine Science AIMS-CS-82-1. Australian Institute of Marine Science. 41 p. Available online: http://data.aims.gov.au/extpubs/attachmentDownload?docID=2326 (more)

All taxa related to Barringtonia_racemosa

Biological Interactions
Relation Taxon GroupSorted ascending
OccursWith Sonneratia_caseolaris Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Bruguiera_sexangula Vascular_Plants