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Bruguiera parviflora

Bruguiera parviflora propagule.jpg
Bruguiera parviflora propagules, Singapore. Photo: John Yong

Common Names

Small-leafed Orange Mangrove ([1], [2])


Cungulla-01-P5 3.jpg
Bruguiera parviflora,Cungulla, QLD.
Photo: J. Busby, © ANBG
More photos...


Name Reference

Bruguiera parviflora (Roxb.) Wight & Arn. ex Griff.

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.

‘parvi-flora’ means small flowers (in Latin), and refers to the distinctive small flowers of this species ([3]).


Bruguiera parviflora is a slender tree growing 5 - 25 m tall, with knee like roots and long, slender propagules. The leaves are small and the leaf margins are often scalloped due to insect damage. In Australia, it is is found from King Sound in Western Australia, across the Northern Territory, to the Pioneer River in Queensland.

Species Feature - Spaghetti-like mature propagules ([3]).


Bruguiera parviflora is a columnar tree or shrub growing up to 5 to 25 m high. It has dark grey bark . The trunk base has fluted buttresses and thick, knee-like air-breathing roots (pneumatophores) up to 30 cm high.

The leaves are simple, opposite, green or yellow-green, elliptic to narrowly elliptic in shape, 4 - 13 cm long, 1.8 - 4 cm wide, with a bluntly pointed apex. Leaf edges are often distinctly scalloped due to insect damage. The leaves occur in clusters at the end of branches. The petiole is green and 1 - 4 cm long.

The inflorescence is 3-10-flowered and axillary. Flowers have a yellowish-green calyx with 8 calyx lobes, 16 stamens and 8 tiny pale creamy-orange or white, bi-lobed petals with 3 bristles on each apex and 1 conspicuous bristle in the sinus (indentation between the petal lobes). The green, tubular, spaghetti-like viviparous propagule is smooth and grows from within the calyx. It grows 7 - 20 cm long and 0.4 - 0.6 cm wide ([1] , [2], [4], [5], [6]).

Botanical Description


Tree or shrub to 25 m, evergreen, columnar; bark grey, smooth, obscurely lenticellate; stem buttresses fluted; roots knee-like pneumatophores.


Leaves opposite, simple, narrowly elliptic, green, 7-13 cm L, 2-4 cm W, margin entire, apex bluntly pointed, base narrowly cuneate; petiole green, to 4 cm L; stipules paired, lanceolate, enclosing terminal bud, 4-6 cm L, green.


Inflorescence axillary, 3-4-flowered, peduncle 2 cm L; flowers erect at anthesis, to 1.5 cm L, yellowish-green; calyx tube ridged, 9 mm L, lobes 8 shorter than tube, less than 3 mm L; petals 8, pale creamy orange, 1.5-2 mm L, bilobed, apices with 3 bristles, sinus between with spine exceeding lobes; stamens 16, 2 enclosed in each petal, dehiscing precociously; style slender, 1-1.5 mm L, stigmas 2-3; fruit within calyx tube enlarged, lobes erect; germination viviparous, hypocotyl emergent from calyx during maturation.


Hypocotyl spaghetti-like, tubular, slender, green, smooth, to 15 cm L, 0.5 cm W, distal tip blunt, buoyant.


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


Bruguiera parviflora is distributed from India throughout South East Asia, to the Malay Peninsula and the Solomon Islands and northern Australia. In Australia, the species is found in coastal areas across the northern coastline from King Sound, Western Australia (17° 19' S, 123° 38’ E) in the west, across the Northern Territory, to the Pioneer River, Queensland (21° 09' S, 149° 13’ E) in the east ([3]).

Localities (not complete):


Bruguiera parviflora typically occurs as monotypic forests of inner mangrove fringe stands and along river banks. Stems in these forests are often straight with high branching. Associated species include Ceriops decandra and Xylocarpus moluccensis ([3]).

Grows in consolidated muds, sands and calcareous sands in brackish and hypersaline areas ([4]).

Mid intertidal, intermediate estuarine position ([3]).


In Australia, flowering occurs chiefly during August to October, and propagule maturation peaks around January and February ([3]). In the Northern Territory it flowers from June to September and fruits from September to December ([4]). The propagules are easily dispersed by water and prefer to germinate in areas with moderate to high light levels ([10]).

Pollen is explosively released when triggered by small insects. The small flowers are held upright and are pollinated by day flying insects such as butterflies ([2], [4]).

Associated with Rhizophora apiculata, Rhizophora stylosa, Bruguiera gymnorhiza, Bruguiera exaristata, Ceriops pseudodecandra, Xylocarpus moluccensis, Camptostemon schultzii and Avicennia marina ([1], [2], [4]).

Biological Interactions  
Group Taxon
  27 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 gymnorhiza
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 Sonneratia alba
Vascular Plants Xylocarpus granatum
Vascular Plants Xylocarpus moluccensis


Aboriginal people in the Top End of the Northern Territory consider this species a preferred source of the large, edible mangrove worm (Bactronophorus thoracites). The timber from the tall, straight stems is also used to make canoe paddles and spear shafts ([11]).

Further ethnobotanical information can be found in ([4]).

Bruguiera flower comparative.jpg
The calyx colour is useful when identifying the different Bruguiera species. From the left: Bruguiera gymnorhiza (red), Bruguiera sexangula (yellow), Bruguiera hainesii (does not occur in Australia), Bruguiera cylindrica (yellowish-green) and Bruguiera parviflora, Singapore. Photo: John Yong

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 parviflora can be distinguished from other, large-flowered, Bruguiera species by it's small flowers and multi-flowered inflorescences and petal spine longer than the petal lobes. It is further distinguished from B. cylindricaby it's long, narrow, ribbed, calyx with short lobes slightly reflexed during flowering, and adpressed during propagule maturation. It also has small yellowish-green to light green leaves with slender petioles (<2mm wide) ([3]).

Leaf margins are sometimes distinctly scalloped due to insect damage – giving an impression of dentate margins ([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

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 Bruguiera X rhynchopetala which has a calyx that is green or green with a reddish tinge.

Capricorn Coast Flora: http://www.mycapricorncoast.com/plants/lorangemangrove.html
Flora of Australia Online: http://www.anbg.gov.au/abrs/online-resources/flora/stddisplay.xsql?pnid=48122
FloraBase, the Western Australian Flora: http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/5292
Guide to Mangroves of Singapore: http://mangrove.nus.edu.sg/guidebooks/text/1055.htm
Wild Singapore: http://www.wildsingapore.com/wildfacts/plants/mangrove/bruguiera/parviflora.htm

-- NormDuke and EmmaClifton - 2012-03-02 - 15:26


  1. 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)
  2. Duke, N.C. (2006). Australia's Mangroves. The authoritative guide to Australia's mangrove plants. University of Queensland, Brisbane. (more)
  3. Duke, N. (2011). Mangroves of Australia. Manuscript. Vers.: 27 Sept 2011. (more)
  4. 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)
  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. 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)
  8. 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)
  9. 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)
  10. 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)
  11. Wightman, G. (2006b). Mangrove Plant Identikit from north Australia's Top End. Greening Australia NT, Darwin. (more)

Biological Interactions
Relation Taxon GroupSorted ascending
InfectedBy Bactronophorus_thoracites Molluscs_Bivalvia
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_gymnorhiza Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Bruguiera_sexangula 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 Diospyros_geminata 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 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 Sonneratia_alba Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Xylocarpus_granatum Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Xylocarpus_moluccensis Vascular_Plants