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Bruguiera gymnorhiza

DSC 0276.JPG
Propagules of Bruguiera gymnorhiza, Cairns, QLD. Photo: F.Zich © CSIRO

Common Names

Large-leafed Orange Mangrove ([1]), Large-leaved Mangrove ([2]).

036 2.jpg
Expended flowers of Bruguiera gymnorhiza, mouth of Mary River, QLD.
Photo: Lyne, A. © ANBG



Name Reference

Bruguiera gymnorhiza (L.) Savigny

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 plants.

‘Gymno-rhiza’ means naked root (in Greek), and refers to the conspicuous exposed knee roots of this species. Spelling of the Linnaeus species name is preserved ([1]).


Bruguiera gymnorhiza is a columnar tree growing to 25 m high with large, glossy, leaves and red calyx which remains attached to the propagule when it falls. It is found in mangroves across the top end of the Northern Territory, throughout Queensland, to northern New South Wales.

Species Feature - Open flower showing petals with 3 longish bristles at lobe tips.


Bruguiera gymnorhiza is a columnar or multi-stemmed tree or shrub generally growing to 20 m high (recorded up to 36 m high). It has rough, dark grey to black bark with checkered fissuring. There are short buttresses at the base of the trunk and thick knee-like air-breathing roots (pneumatophores).

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

The leaves are simple, opposite, thick, leathery, elliptic, oblong or elliptic-lanceolate in shape, 8 - 24 cm long, 3 - 9 cm wide, with a bluntly pointed apex. The leaves occur in clusters at the end of branches and the petiole is 2 - 6 cm long.

The inflorescence is one-flowered and axillary. Flowers have a bright red, occasionally orange or yellowish-green calyx with 9 - 16 calyx lobes, 18-28 stamens and 9 - 14 creamy-orange, bi-lobed petals with 3 - 4 bristles on each apex and 1 conspicuous bristle in the sinus (indentation between the petal lobes) that is shorter than the petal lobes. The viviparous propagule grows from within the calyx and is cigar-shaped and green, has longitudinal ribbing and is 10 - 25 cm long and 1 - 2 cm wide ([3], [2], [1], [4], [5] ).

Botanical Description


Tree or shrub to 25 m, evergreen, columnar or multi-stemmed; bark dark grey to black, rough, friable, checkered fissuring; stem with short buttresses; roots thick knee-like pneumatophores.


Leaves opposite, simple, elliptic-oblong, glossy green, coriaceous, 9-24 cm L, 3-9 cm W, margin entire, apex bluntly pointed, base cuneate; petiole green, to 2-6 cm L, often glaucous with white wax; stipules paired, lanceolate, enclosing terminal bud, to 8 cm L, often reddish.


Inflorescence axillary, 1-flowered, peduncle 1-3 cm L; flowers bright red occasionally yellowish-green, recurved, to 3-5 cm L; calyx tube turbinate, grooved, lobes 9-14 narrow pointed longer than tube, 15-25 mm L; petals 9-14, creamy orange, 13-19 mm L, bilobed, 4-8 mm L, apices acute with 3-4 bristles 2-4 mm L, sinus between lobes with long spine; stamens 18-28, with 2 enclosed in each petal, dehiscing precociously; style slender, 15-24 mm L, stigma minutely 3-4-lobed; fruit within calyx tube, enlarged, turbinate, grooved, lobes only slightly reflexed, if at all; germination viviparous, hypocotyl emergent from calyx during maturation.


Hypocotyl cigar-shaped, terete, elongate, green, longitudinal ribbing, to 25 cm L, 1-2 cm W, distal tip blunt, buoyant.



Bruguiera gymnorhiza is one of the most wide-ranging of mangrove species, based on its broad longitudinal distribution ([6]).

Bruguiera gymnorhiza is distributed from East Africa through India and the Malay Peninsula to the Ryukyu Islands, Polynesia to Samoa and northern Australia. In Australia, it is found in most estuaries along the northern coast from Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory (12° 25' S, 130° 48’ E) in the west, across Queensland, to Moonee Creek, New South Wales (30° 13' S, 153° 10’ E) in the east ([6]).

Localities (not complete):


Bruguiera gymnorhiza is a distinctive and common member of the mid-high intertidal mangrove community. Tree growing on loam, sandy mud, foot of limestone, inundation zones 3-4. The species is found in a wide variety of habitat conditions ranging from deep estuarine muds, to sandy beaches, to coral and rock shorelines ([6]).

Bruguiera gymnorhiza is often found in areas with some freshwater input ([3]). It grows in mud, sand and sometimes black soils ([2]).

Bruguiera gymnorhiza has been recorded growing in areas above the influence of tides in Papua New Guinea, Christmas Island, Western Australia, as well as Melville Island, north-east Arnhem Land and Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory. In these situations it is found in non-tidal fresh water with other riparian species ([2]).

High-mid intertidal, downstream-intermediate estuarine position ([6]).


In Australia, flowering peaks through April to August, and propagule maturation occurs in January and February, although flowers and fruit can be produced throughout the year. The flowers are brightly coloured, large and pendulous, attracting birds and allowing easy pollination. Pollen is explosively released when triggered by small insects visiting the flower. The propagules are suited for distribution by tide and flood ([6], [2]).

Propagules of Avicennia marina, Bruguiera exaristata, Bruguiera gymnorhiza, Ceriops tagal, Rhizophora apiculata and Rhizophora stylosa 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). This predation influences the taxon's zonal distribution ([10]).

Biological Interactions  
Group Taxon
  44 taxa
Vascular Plants Acanthus ilicifolius
Vascular Plants Acrostichum speciosum
Vascular Plants Aegialitis_annulata
Vascular Plants Aegiceras corniculatum
Vascular Plants Avicennia marina
Vascular Plants Bruguiera exaristata
Vascular Plants Bruguiera parviflora
Vascular Plants Bruguiera sexangula
Vascular Plants Camptostemon schultzii
Vascular Plants Ceriops pseudodecandra
Vascular Plants Ceriops tagal
Vascular Plants Cynometra iripa
Vascular Plants Diospyros geminata
Vascular Plants Excoecaria agallocha
Vascular Plants Heritiera littoralis
Vascular Plants Hibiscus tiliaceus
Vascular Plants Lumnitzera littorea
Vascular Plants Lumnitzera racemosa
Vascular Plants Nypa fruticans
Vascular Plants Osbornia octodonta
Vascular Plants Rhizophora apiculata
Vascular Plants Rhizophora X lamarckii
Vascular Plants Rhizophora mucronata
Vascular Plants Rhizophora stylosa
Vascular Plants Scyphiphora hydrophylacea
Vascular Plants Sonneratia alba
Vascular Plants Sonneratia caseolaris
Vascular Plants Xylocarpus granatum
Vascular Plants Xylocarpus moluccensis
Mosses Fissidens linearis
Mosses Sematophyllum sp.
Liverworts Acrolejeunea aulacophora
Liverworts Cheilolejeunea_intertexta
Liverworts Chiloscyphus semiteres
Liverworts Cololejeunea lanciloba
Liverworts Frullania ericoides
Liverworts Frullania ferdinandi-muelleri
Liverworts Frullania rostrata
Liverworts Frullania subtropica
Liverworts Lejeunea flava
Liverworts Leptolejeunea maculata
Liverworts Metzgeria furcata
Liverworts Schiffneriolejeunea tumida
Crustaceans Pseudohelice quadrata

038 2.jpg
Bruguiera gymnorhiza, mouth of Mary River, QLD.
Photo: Lyne, A. © ANBG


The edible mangrove worm can be found in this tree. Timber is used to make throwing sticks for hunting and spear heads. The reddish inner bark was used by Macassan trepangers to preserve trepang ([2]).

For further ethnobotanical information see [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.

Bruguiera gymnorhza can be distinguished from other Bruguiera species by it's large, solitary flowers, and petal spine shorter than the petal lobes. It can be distinguished from Bruguiera X rhynchopetala by 3 petal bristles > 2mm long. Bruguiera X rhynchopetala has 1-2 petal bristles < 2 mm long ([1]).

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

Calyx colour is also a useful character to distinguish between Bruguiera spp. (see image). Not included are Bruguiera exaristata which has a green calyx and B. X rhynchopetala which has a calyx that is green or green with a reddish tinge.


This species is sometimes spelt with a double 'r', as in Bruguiera gymnorrhiza. However, the Australian Plant Census considers the single 'r' spelling to be correct ([18]).

Flora of Australia Online: http://www.anbg.gov.au/abrs/online-resources/flora/stddisplay.xsql?pnid=48118

Species profiles for pacific island agroforestry, Bruguiera gymnorrhiza (large-leafed mangrove): http://www.agroforestry.net/tti/B.gymno-largeleafmangrove.pdf

Plantzafrica: http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantab/bruggym.htm

Lovelock, C. (1994). Large-leafed Orange Mangrove (Bruguiera gymnorrhiza). 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-5657.html

PlantNET - New South Wales Flora Online: http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Bruguiera~gymnorhiza

Noosa's Native Plants: http://noosanativeplants.com.au/plants/94/bruguiera-gymnorhiza

Guide to mangrove species of Singapore: http://mangrove.nus.edu.sg/guidebooks/text/1054.htm

A field guide to Kenyan Mangroves: http://www.madeinnys.com/mangrove/b_gymnorrhiza.htm

Mangrove and wetland wildlife at Sungei Buloh Nature Park: http://www.naturia.per.sg/buloh/plants/bruguiera%20gymnorhiza.htm

Natural History Museum, Endeavor botanical illustrations: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/jdsml/nature-online/endeavour-botanical/detail.dsml?IMAGNO=000800

World Register of Marine Species: http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=235082

-- NormDuke and EmmaClifton - 2012-03-02 - 11:24


  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. 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)
  4. !McCusker, A. (1984). Rhizophoraceae. Flora of Australia. 22: 1-10. (Australian Government Publishing Service: Canberra.) (more)
  5. Ding Hou (1958). Rhizophoraceae. Flora Malesiana. Ser. 1, Vol. 5, (P. Noordhoff Ltd: Groningen.), pp. 429-493. (more)
  6. Duke, N. (2011). Mangroves of Australia. Manuscript. Vers.: 27 Sept 2011. (more)
  7. Boto, K.G., Bunt, J.S. and Wellington, J.T. (1984). Variations in mangrove forest productivity in northern Australia and Papua New Guinea. Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 19(3): 321-329. Available online: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WDV-4DV0KPV-CY&_user=2322062&_coverDate=09,2F30,2F1984&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1655468263&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000056895&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=2322062&md5=09397a6e327acf15899ed3f7ddc83a82&searchtype=a (more)
  8. 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)
  9. West, R.J., Thorogood, C.A., Walford, T.R. and Williams, R. J. (1984). Mangrove distribution in New South Wales. Wetlands (Australia) 4: 2–6. Available online: http://ojs.library.unsw.edu.au/index.php/wetlands/article/viewFile/128/141 (more)
  10. 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)
  11. 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)
  12. 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)
  13. 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)
  14. 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)
  15. Windolf, J. (1989). Bryophytes in a sub-tropical mangrove community. Austrobaileya 3: 103-107. (more)
  16. Boto, K. G. and Wellington, J. T. (1983). Phosphorus and nitrogen nutritional status of a northern Australian mangrove forest. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 11: 63-69. Available online: http://www.int-res.com/articles/meps/11/m011p063.pdf (more)
  17. Camilleri, J.C. (1992). Leaf-litter processing by invertebrates in a mangrove forest in Queensland. Marine Biology 114: 139-145. Abstract available online: http://www.springerlink.com/content/q8r18461550v4pk6 (more)
  18. Australian Plant Census (APC) (2010). IBIS database, Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Council of Heads of Australasia Herbaria. http://www.anbg.gov.au/chah/apc/ (more)

Biological Interactions
Relation Taxon GroupSorted ascending
HasDetritivore Campecopea Crustaceans
HasDetritivore Clistocoeloma_merguiense Crustaceans
HasDetritivore Ilyograpsus_paludicola Crustaceans
HasDetritivore Leptograpsus_variegatus Crustaceans
HasDetritivore Melita Crustaceans
HasDetritivore Metopograpsus_frontalis Crustaceans
HasDetritivore Orchestia Crustaceans
HasDetritivore Paragrapsus_laevis Crustaceans
HasDetritivore Parasesarma_erythodactyla Crustaceans
HasDetritivore Pseudohelice_quadrata Crustaceans
HasDetritivore Ptyosphaera_alata Crustaceans
PreyOf Metopograpsus_latifrons Crustaceans
PreyOf Metopograpsus_thukuhar Crustaceans
PreyOf Perisesarma_messa Crustaceans
PreyOf Parasesarma_moluccensis Crustaceans
PreyOf Neosarmatium_trispinosum Crustaceans
PreyOf Hypochrysops_apelles Lepidoptera
HasEpiphyte Austroparmelina_conlabrosa Lichens
HasEpiphyte Buellia_demutans Lichens
HasEpiphyte Bulbothrix_queenslandica Lichens
HasEpiphyte Enterographa_compunctula Lichens
HasEpiphyte Flavoparmelia_haysomii Lichens
HasEpiphyte Haematomma_persoonii Lichens
HasEpiphyte Haematomma_stevensiae Lichens
HasEpiphyte Parmelia_erumpens Lichens
HasEpiphyte Parmelinopsis_spumosa Lichens
HasEpiphyte Parmotrema_gardneri Lichens
HasEpiphyte Parmotrema_tinctorum Lichens
HasEpiphyte Pertusaria_thiospoda Lichens
HasEpiphyte Pertusaria_velata Lichens
HasEpiphyte Ramalina_confirmata Lichens
HasEpiphyte Ramalina_exiguella Lichens
HasEpiphyte Relicina_abstrusa Lichens
HasEpiphyte Relicina_sublanea Lichens
HasEpiphyte Relicina_sydneyensis Lichens
HasEpiphyte Usnea_nidifica Lichens
HasEpiphyte Acrolejeunea_aulacophora Liverworts
HasEpiphyte Cheilolejeunea_intertexta Liverworts
HasEpiphyte Chiloscyphus_semiteres Liverworts
HasEpiphyte Cololejeunea_lanciloba Liverworts
HasEpiphyte Frullania_ericoides Liverworts
HasEpiphyte Frullania_ferdinandi-muelleri Liverworts
HasEpiphyte Frullania_rostrata Liverworts
HasEpiphyte Frullania_subtropica Liverworts
HasEpiphyte Lejeunea_flava Liverworts
HasEpiphyte Leptolejeunea_maculata Liverworts
HasEpiphyte Metzgeria_furcata Liverworts
HasEpiphyte Schiffneriolejeunea_tumida Liverworts
HasEpiphyte Fissidens_linearis Mosses
HasEpiphyte Sematophyllum Mosses
HasDetritivore Capitella Polychaetes
HasEpiphyte Bostrychia_calliptera RedAlgae
HasEpiphyte Bostrychia_moritziana RedAlgae
HasEpiphyte Bostrychia_simpliciuscula RedAlgae
HasEpiphyte Caloglossa_stipitata 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_exaristata Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Bruguiera_parviflora Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Bruguiera_sexangula Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Camptostemon_schultzii Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Ceriops_pseudodecandra Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Ceriops_tagal Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Cynometra_iripa Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Diospyros_geminata Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Diospyros_littorea 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
PreyOf Lysiana_maritima Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Nypa_fruticans Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Osbornia_octodonta Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Rhizophora_X_lamarckii Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Rhizophora_apiculata Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Rhizophora_mucronata Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Rhizophora_stylosa Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Scyphiphora_hydrophylacea Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Sonneratia_alba Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Sonneratia_caseolaris Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Xylocarpus_granatum Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Xylocarpus_moluccensis Vascular_Plants