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Camptostemon schultzii

Photo: F.Zich © CSIRO

Photo: F.Zich © CSIRO

Common Names

Kapok Mangrove ([1])


Malvaceae (Bombacaceae in Queensland) [2]

Name Reference

Camptostemon schultzii Mast.

Origin of Name

Campto-stemon’ means flexible stamen (in Greek), and refers to the characteristically bent staminal filaments of this genus. Species named in honour of Frederick Schultz, a member of Goyder’s Australian survey party in the 1860’s that first collected this genus and species from Port Darwin ([3]).


A shrub or tree growing 5-22 m high with small, dark brown scales on new growth. Seeds have a woolly coating ([1]).

Species Feature - Distinct silvery surfaces under leaves and covering twigs and reproductive parts ([3]).


Photo: F.Zich © CSIRO

Camptostemon schultzii is a tree or shrub growing 5 - 30 m high. It has grey scaly bark and a flanged buttress trunk base with rounded, spreading above-ground roots.

The leaves are simple, alternate, spirally arranged, 3 - 15 cm long, 2 - 5 cm wide, oblong-elliptic to elliptic-lanceolate in shape with a rounded or pointed apex, tiny brown scales on the lower surface and glands on the upper surface. The petiole is 1 - 3 cm long.

The inflorescence is axillary with 3 - 6 small flowers, each with 5 white petals (yellowing as they age) and 20 stamens.

The fruit is obovoid (egg-shaped) and 1 - 1.5 cm long with 2 seeds per fruit. Seeds are 9 mm long with a dense woolly coating ([1], [4], [5]).

Botanical Description


Tree or shrub to 30 m, evergreen, columnar or multi-stemmed, twigs with prominent leaf scars and minute peltate scales; bark silver-grey, scaly, not fissured, numerous lenticels; stem base flanged; roots rounded, sinuous, spreading.


Leaves alternate, simple, spirally arranged, oblong-elliptic to slightly lanceolate, 5-15 cm L, 2-5 cm W, margin entire, apex acute to rounded, slightly emarginate, base cuneate with notch at petiole, lower surface silvery with minute peltate scales, upper surface dull and sparsely lepidote to glabrous; petiole terete, finely grooved above, 1-3 cm L.


Inflorescence axillary, 3-6-flowered cymes, umbelliform, silvery lepidote; peduncle 4-8 mm L, pedicel 2-4 mm L; flowers densely lepidote outside, epicalyx cupulate, 2-3 mm L, irregular margin, calyx campanulate, twice as long as epicalyx, irregular-lobed; petals 5, imbricate, obovate, bluntly pointed, to 6 mm L, white, densely scaly outside, glabrous within; stamens 20, united as narrow tube 4 mm L, filament 1-2 mm L, anthers bithecate; ovary 2mm L, superior, globular, scaly; style slender, 8 mm L, with 2 peltate stigmas; fruit obovoid 2-seeded capsule, scaly, 15 mm L, 8 mm W, with persistent basal epicalyx, dehiscing into 2 halves.


Seeds narrowly deltoid obovoid, flattened, ~1 cm L, conspicuously hairy, dense cotton-like, white; embryo green.



Camptostemon schultzii.jpeg
Distribution of Camptostemon schultzii in Australia.
Image: Australia's Virtual Herbarium, 2010

Camptostemon schultzii is recorded for New Guinea and northern Australia. In Australia, the species is found in estuaries across the northern coastline from Cape Keraudren, Western Australia (19° 57' S, 119° 46’ E) in the west, across the Northern Territory, to the Lockhart River, Queensland (12° 53' S, 143° 23’ E) in the east ([3]).

Localities (not complete):


Commonly found fringing tidal waterways. Prefers soft muddy soils that are frequently inundated ([1]).

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


In Australia, peak flowering occurs in January and February. Propagules mature in March and April ([5]).

In the Northern Territory, flowers are produced from June to November; mature capsules appear between October and February ([1], [4]).

The seed capsule is buoyant and capable of mid-range water dispersal ([1]).

Pollination suspected to be via insects and wind ([1]).

Biological Interactions  
Group Taxon
  21 taxa
Vascular Plants Acrostichum speciosum
Vascular Plants Aegialitis annulata
Vascular Plants Aegiceras corniculatum
Vascular Plants Amyema mackayensis
Vascular Plants Avicennia marina
Vascular Plants Bruguiera cylindrica
Vascular Plants Bruguiera exaristata
Vascular Plants Bruguiera gymnorhiza
Vascular Plants Bruguiera parviflora
Vascular Plants Ceriops pseudodecandra
Vascular Plants Ceriops tagal
Vascular Plants Excoecaria agallocha
Vascular Plants Lumnitzera littorea
Vascular Plants Lumnitzera racemosa
Vascular Plants Osbornia octodonta
Vascular Plants Rhizophora apiculata
Vascular Plants Rhizophora stylosa
Vascular Plants Scyphiphora hydrophylacea
Vascular Plants Sonneratia alba
Vascular Plants Xylocarpus granatum
Vascular Plants Xylocarpus moluccensis


The buoyant wood is used to make canoes and as a fast burning firewood. Ash from the burnt wood is widely used in Arnhem land as medicine for various skin disorders ([4]).

Further ethnobotanical information can be found in [1].


The wood of this species is buoyant and pale coloured stems are often found washed up at high tide marks ([1]).

FloraBase, the Western Australian Flora: http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/4997

-- NormDuke and EmmaClifton - 2012-06-19 - 15:07


  1. 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)
  2. Australian Plant Census (APC) (2012). IBIS database, Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Council of Heads of Australasia Herbaria. http://www.anbg.gov.au/chah/apc/ (more)
  3. Duke, N. (2011). Mangroves of Australia. Manuscript. Vers.: 27 Sept 2011. (more)
  4. Wightman, G. (2006b). Mangrove Plant Identikit from north Australia's Top End. Greening Australia NT, Darwin. (more)
  5. Duke, N.C. (2006). Australia's Mangroves. The authoritative guide to Australia's mangrove plants. University of Queensland, Brisbane. (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)
  7. Semeniuk, V. (1980). Mangrove zonation along an eroding coastline in King Sound, north-western Australia. Journal of Ecology 68: 789-812. Available online: (more)

Biological Interactions
Relation Taxon GroupSorted ascending
OccursWith Acrostichum_speciosum Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Aegialitis_annulata Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Aegiceras_corniculatum Vascular_Plants
PreyOf Amyema_mackayensis Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Avicennia_marina Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Bruguiera_cylindrica Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Bruguiera_exaristata Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Bruguiera_gymnorhiza Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Bruguiera_parviflora Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Bruguiera_sexangula Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Ceriops_pseudodecandra Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Ceriops_tagal Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Excoecaria_agallocha 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 Sonneratia_alba Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Xylocarpus_granatum Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Xylocarpus_moluccensis Vascular_Plants