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Bruguiera exaristata

Common Names

Cungulla-01-P7-1 3.jpg
Bruguiera exaristata,Cungulla, QLD.
Photo: J. Busby, © ANBG
More photos...

Rib-fruited Orange Mangrove ([1],[2])



Name Reference

Bruguiera exaristata Ding Hou

Origin of Name

Named in honour of the French biologist and explorer, Jean-Guillaume Bruguiére (1750-1798), famous for his naming of molluscs, marine life and plant.

‘ex-aristata’ means without a long bristle-like tip (in Latin), and refers to the absence of long hairs on petal lobes, and absent bristle between petal lobes in this species ([3]).


Cungulla-01-P7-2 3.jpg
Developing propagules of Bruguiera exaristata,Cungulla, QLD.
Photo: J. Busby, © ANBG
More photos...

Bruguiera exaristata is a shrub or small tree growing to 10 m high with thick, knee-like roots. In Australia, it occurs from Cossack in Western Australia, across the Northern Territory, down to Port Curtis is Queensland.

Species Feature - Open flower showing petals lacking bristle between lobes.


Bruguiera exaristata is a columnar or multi-stemmed tree or shrub growing to 10 m high. It has rough, horizontally fissured, dark grey to black bark. The base of the trunk is swollen, with stocky buttresses and thick, knee-like air-breathing roots (pneumatophores).

The leaves are simple, opposite, glossy green, elliptic to obovate in shape, 4 - 12 cm long, 2 - 5 cm wide, with a pointed apex. The leaves occur in clusters at the end of branches. The petiole is green and 1-3 cm long.

The inflorescence is one, or rarely, two-flowered and axillary. Flowers have a yellowish-green calyx with 8 - 10 calyx lobes, 16-20 stamens and 8 - 10 creamy-orange, bi-lobed petals with no, or minute (less than 0.3 mm long) bristles on each apex and no, or minute (less than 0.3 mm long), bristles in the sinus (indentation between the petal lobes). The green, finger-like viviparous propagule has longitudinal ribbing and grows from within the calyx. It is 4 - 25 cm long and 0.5 - 2 cm wide ([4] , [1], [2], [5], [6]).

Bruguiera exaristata.jpeg
Distribution of Bruguiera exaristata in Australia.
Image: Australia's Virtual Herbarium, 2010

Botanical Description


Tree or shrub to 10 m, evergreen, columnar or multi-stemmed; bark dark grey to black, rough, friable, horizontal fissuring; stem base swollen with stocky buttresses; roots thick knee-like pneumatophores.


Leaves opposite, simple, obovate, glossy green, 5-12 cm L, 2-5 cm W, margin entire, acute apex, cuneate base; petiole green, to 1-3 cm L; stipules paired, lanceolate, enclosing terminal bud, to 4 cm L.


Inflorescence axillary, mostly 1-flowered, rarely 2, peduncle 0.5-2 cm L; flowers recurved, 2.5-2.8 cm L, yellowish-green, never red; calyx tube turbinate, ribbed, with 8-10 slender pointed lobes longer than tube, 1.2-1.3 cm L; petals 8-10, creamy orange, 9-10 mm L, bilobed, apices with no bristles or minute to 0.3 mm L, sinus between lobes without spine or minute to 0.5 mm L; stamens 16-20, 2 enclosed in each petal, dehiscing precociously; style slender, 1.2-1.6 cm L, minutely 2-3-lobed stigma; fruit within calyx tube, enlarged, turbinate, ribbed, lobes slightly reflexed; germination viviparous, hypocotyl emergent from calyx during maturation.


Hypocotyl narrowly finger-like, terete, elongate, green, slight longitudinal ribbing, to 11 cm L, 0.9-1 cm W, buoyant.



Bruguiera exaristata is distributed from eastern Indonesia, Timor and southern New Guinea to northern Australia. In Australia, the species occurs in estuaries across the north coast from the Montebello Islands and Cossack, Western Australia (20° 40' S, 117° 12’ E) in the west, across the Northern Territory, to Port Curtis, Queensland (23° 49' S, 151° 22’ E) in the east ([3]).

Localities (not complete):


In Australia, B. exaristata is found in a variety of habitats ranging from tidal backwaters, to stunted stands bordering saltpans and sandy beaches ([3]). Salinity levels up to 72 ppt are tolerated ([14]).

High intertidal, intermediate-upstream estuarine position ([3]).


In Australia, flowering peaks during September and October, and propagule maturation occurs during February and March ([3]), although flowers and fruit can be produced throughout the year. Hypocotyls are dispersed by tide or flood ([2]).

Pollen is explosively released when triggered by small insects visiting the flower. Honey-eaters visit the flowers to gather nectar ([1]). The red-headed honeyeater, Myzomela erthrocephala, has been observed visiting flowers ([2]).

Propagules have been observed as being at least partially consumed by grapsid crabs, primarily Metopograpsus latifrons, Metapograpsus thukarhar, Perisesarma messa (as Sesarma messa), Parasesarma moluccensis (as Sesarma moluccensis) and Neosarmatium trispinosum (as N. smithi) ([9]).

Common associates include Ceriops australis and Xylocarpus moluccensis. As with other Bruguiera, B. exaristata has a distinctive explosive pollen release mechanism. Honey-eaters frequently visit the flowers to gather nectar ([3]).

Occasionally found in single species stands ([1],[2]).


Flying-Fish-01-P10 3.jpg
Leaves and flowers of Bruguiera exaristata,Cungulla, QLD.
Photo: J. Busby, © ANBG
More photos...

In the Northern Territory, this species houses the large, edible mangrove worm (Bactronophorus thoracites), and indicates a good place to hunt worms in the surrounding area. In western Australia, it is used to make Boomerangs and in Papua New Guinea it is used medicinally ([15]).

Further ethnobotanical information can be found in [2].

Similar Species

Bruguiera can be distinguished from other genera in the Rhizophoraceae family by the number of calyx lobes (8-15). Ceriops spp. have 5 calyx lobes while Rhizophora spp. have 4.

It is readily recognised by its buttressed trunk, knee-like pneumatophores, opposite glossy green leaves, and large mostly solitary flowers with 8-10 lobes. Furthermore, the calyces are distinguished by their light green colour with distinctive ribbing. The species is distinguished from other single flower Bruguiera by the absence of a spine between petal lobes, and the absence of bristles on petal lobes ([3]).

For illustration and further description of the above distinguishing characters see Mangrove Watch Australia: http://www.mangrovewatch.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=35&Itemid=300173


Bruguiera sexangula has been confused with this species in the past. Lack of petals (the main distinguishing feature) on herbarium specimens is the reason for most incorrect identifications ([2]).

Flora of Australia Online: http://www.anbg.gov.au/abrs/online-resources/flora/stddisplay.xsql?pnid=48120

FloraBase, the Western Australian Flora: http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/5291

Australian Pollen and Spore Atlas: http://apsa.anu.edu.au/location/Australia%20%28tropical%29/sample/221-5-5?order=asc&sort=pic

-- NormDuke and EmmaClifton - 2012-03-02 - 10:55


  1. Duke, N.C. (2006). Australia's Mangroves. The authoritative guide to Australia's mangrove plants. University of Queensland, Brisbane. (more)
  2. Wightman, G. (2006). Mangroves of the Northern Territory, Australia: identification and traditional use. Northern Territory. Dept. of Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts, Palmerston. (more)
  3. Duke, N. (2011). Mangroves of Australia. Manuscript. Vers.: 27 Sept 2011. (more)
  4. 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)
  5. !McCusker, A. (1984). Rhizophoraceae. Flora of Australia. 22: 1-10. (Australian Government Publishing Service: Canberra.) (more)
  6. Ding Hou (1958). Rhizophoraceae. Flora Malesiana. Ser. 1, Vol. 5, (P. Noordhoff Ltd: Groningen.), pp. 429-493. (more)
  7. Bridgewater, P.B. (1982). Mangrove vegetation of the southern and western Australian coastline. pp. 111-120 in: Clough, B.F. (ed.) Mangrove ecosystems in Australia : structure, function and management. Australian National University Press. 302 p. (more)
  8. Duke, N.C. and Ge, X.-J. (2011). Bruguiera (Rhizophoraceae) in the Indo-West Pacific: a morphometric assessment of hybridization within single-flowered taxa. Blumea 56: 36-48. (more)
  9. Smith III, T.J. (1987). Seed predation in relation to tree dominance and distribution in mangrove forests. Ecology 68(2): 266-73. Available online: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/1939257.pdf (more)
  10. 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)
  11. Robertson, A.I., Giddins, R. and Smith, T.J. (1990). Seed predation by insects in tropical mangrove forests: extent and effects on seed viability and the growth of seedlings. Oecologia 83: 213-219. Available online: http://www.springerlink.com/content/h6567208r2v14176/fulltext.pdf (more)
  12. Bunt, J.S. (1997). The Mangrove Floral and Vegetational Diversity of Hinchinbrook Island and the Adjacent Coast. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville. Available online: http://data.aims.gov.au/extpubs/attachmentDownload?docID=3018 (more)
  13. Semeniuk, V. (1980). Mangrove zonation along an eroding coastline in King Sound, north-western Australia. Journal of Ecology 68: 789-812. Available online: (more)
  14. Wells, A.G. (1982). Mangrove vegetation of northern Australia. In. Clough, B.F. (ed.) Mangrove ecosystems in Australia: structure function and management. Australian National University Press, Canberra. (more)
  15. Wightman, G. (2006b). Mangrove Plant Identikit from north Australia's Top End. Greening Australia NT, Darwin. (more)

Biological Interactions
Relation Taxon GroupSorted ascending
PollinatedBy Insects AllOrganisms
Pollinated by Myzomela_erythrocephala Birds
PreyOf Metopograpsus_latifrons Crustaceans
PreyOf Metopograpsus_thukuhar Crustaceans
PreyOf Perisesarma_messa Crustaceans
PreyOf Parasesarma_moluccensis Crustaceans
PreyOf Neosarmatium_trispinosum Crustaceans
PreyOf Hypochrysops_narcissus Lepidoptera
InfectedBy Bactronophorus_thoracites Molluscs_Bivalvia
InfectedBy Dicyathifer_manni Molluscs_Bivalvia
HasEpiphyte Bostrychia_calliptera RedAlgae
HasEpiphyte Bostrychia_moritziana RedAlgae
HasEpiphyte Bostrychia_simpliciuscula RedAlgae
HasEpiphyte Bostrychia_tenella RedAlgae
HasEpiphyte Caloglossa_adhaerens RedAlgae
HasEpiphyte Caloglossa_stipitata RedAlgae
HasEpiphyte Catenella_nipae RedAlgae
HasEpiphyte Gelidium_sp RedAlgae
OccursWith Acanthus_ilicifolius Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Acrostichum_speciosum Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Aegialitis_annulata Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Aegiceras_corniculatum Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Avicennia_marina Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Bruguiera_gymnorhiza Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Bruguiera_parviflora Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Camptostemon_schultzii Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Ceriops_australis Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Ceriops_pseudodecandra Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Ceriops_tagal Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Cynometra_iripa Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Excoecaria_agallocha Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Heritiera_littoralis Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Hibiscus_tiliaceus Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Lumnitzera_littorea Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Lumnitzera_racemosa Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Osbornia_octodonta Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Rhizophora_apiculata Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Rhizophora_stylosa Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Scyphiphora_hydrophylacea Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Xylocarpus_granatum Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Xylocarpus_moluccensis Vascular_Plants