%META:TOPICINFO{_authorWikiName="PaulHarvey" author="PaulHarvey" comment="" date="1350518497" format="1.1" reprev="62" version="62"}% Ceriops_australis < Mangroves < TRIN Wiki

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Ceriops australis

Common Names

Smooth-fruited Yellow Mangrove ( [1]), Smooth-fruited Spur Mangrove ( [2])



Name Reference

Ceriops australis (C.T.White) Ballment, T.J.Sm. & J.A.Stoddart

Origin of Name

Ceras-opsis means 'horn-like appearance' in Greek, referring to the small horn-like hypocotyl which emerge from the fruit of this genus. ‘Austral-is’ means southern occurring (in Latin), and refers to the southern distribution in this species ( [1], [2]).


Ceriops australis is a shrub or small tree growing to 10 m with short, stocky buttresses and smooth, rounded hypocotyls. It occurs in the northern half of Australia from Exmouth, WA, through to Moreton Bay, QLD.

Species Feature - Hypocotyls are smooth and relatively short ( [3]).


Columnar or multi-stemmed tree or shrub growing to 10 m high. The trunk has stout flanged buttresses with looped surface roots sometimes developing.

The leaves are opposite, glossy yellowish-green in colour, obovate to obovate-elliptic in shape, with a rounded apex, 5.5-10 cm long and 2-3.4 cm wide with a 2 cm long petiole. Stipules are paired and flattened, 0.8-2.5 cm long with a rounded apex.

The inflorescence is a dense cluster of 2-10 flowers. Flowers are yellowish-green to orangy-red, up to 5 mm long. Petals are creamy white, becoming brown with age. The fruit is an inverted pear-shaped drupe, 0.8-1.3 cm long, 0.5-1 cm wide, seated in a sunken calyx tube with reflexed lobes. The species is viviparous, with the hypocotyl (dispersal propagule) emerging from the end of the fruit. The hypocotyl is slender, yellowish-green, smooth, 4-15 cm long and 0.5 cm wide ( [4], [1], [5], [2]).

Botanical Description


Tree or shrub to 10 m, dense, columnar or multi-stemmed, evergreen; bark pale grey-white to orange-brown, smooth with scattered pustular lenticels; stem base with stout flanged buttresses; roots sometimes developed as looped surface roots.


Leaves opposite, simple, obovate, glossy yellowish-green, glabrous, 6 cm L, 3 cm W, margin entire, apex rounded, base cuneate; petiole terete, yellowish-green, to 2 cm L; stipules paired, flattened, yellowish-green, to 2 cm L, apex rounded, enclosing terminal bud.


Inflorescence axillary, 2-8-flowered, bifurcating, dense; peduncle 1-3 cm L, 0.3 cm W; flowers erect, yellowish-green to orangy-red, to 5 mm L; calyx tube shortly turbinate, smooth, with 5(-6) oblong erect lobes longer than tube, 4 mm L; petals 5(-6), creamy white becoming brown with age, 3 mm L, apex emarginate with 3 clavate appendages; stamens 10(-12), 2 enclosed by each petal, 0.5 mm L; style slender, 1-3 mm L; fruit inverted pear-shaped drupe, brown, finely coriaceous, seated in sunken calyx tube, lobes reflexed; germination viviparous, hypocotyl emergent from distal end of fruit during maturation; maturation indicated by distinct cotyledonary collar prior to abscission.


Hypocotyl pencil-like but tapered, slender but short, terete, yellowish-green, smooth, to 15 cm L, 0.5 cm W, distil tip bluntly pointed, distal half widest, buoyant.

( [3]).


Ceriops australis is the dominant Ceriops found in Australia with other species restricted to more northerly areas. It is not known how far C. australis extends north of Australia since there has been confusion with diagnostic characters. In Australia, the species is found in most estuaries across the northern coast from Exmouth, Western Australia (21° 53' S, 114° 22’ E) ( [3])/ Ashburton River ( [6]) in the west, across the Northern Territory, to southern Moreton Bay, Queensland (27° 04' S, 153° 17’ E) in the east ( [3], [6]).

It also occurs in the southern part of Papua New Guinea, through Timor, Flores, Sumbawa, Java and Palau Bilinton, close to Sumatra, Indonesia ( [6], Fig. 6)

Localities (not complete):


In Australia, C. australis is typically the chief member of inner and drier mangrove stands. While it is unsuited to exposure of wave wash, currents and strong winds, it is however tolerant of low moisture and high salinities. These attributes are demonstrated where it commonly borders saltpans and arid landward margins. Such conditions are common along much of Australia's north coast, and the species dominates in these areas. Ceriops australis is found also in wetter regions, and it often co-exists with C. tagal, and to a lesser degree, C. pseudodecandra ( [3]).

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


In Australia, peak flowering occurs in November, with propagules maturing from December to February ( [1]). In the Northern Territory flowering peaks from September to November, with fruiting peaking from October to May ( [2]).

Biological Interactions
Group Taxon
  13 taxa
Vascular Plants Aegialitis annulata
Vascular Plants Avicennia marina
Vascular Plants Bruguiera exaristata
Vascular Plants Bruguiera parviflora
Vascular Plants Cathormion sp.
Vascular Plants Ceriops pseudodecandra
Vascular Plants Ceriops tagal
Vascular Plants Excoecaria agallocha
Vascular Plants Excoecaria ovalis
Vascular Plants Lumnitzera_racemosa
Vascular Plants Parkinsonia aculeata
Vascular Plants Sporobolus virginicus
Vascular Plants Tecticornia halocnemoides


Timber is used to make digging sticks, spear shafts and throwing sticks. The inner red bark is boiled and used to treat skin disorders. Ashes from burnt wood and used to treat skin infections and sores. The mangrove worms found in this species are not eaten or used medicinally ( [2]).

Further enthobotanical information can be found in [5].

Similar Species

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

Ceriops australis is closely comparable with C. tagal. The two were grouped as one until neighbouring trees were shown to be genetically isolated. The diagnostic characters used to identify them in the field is restricted to hypocotyl size and surface character. Ceriops australis is distinguished by its smooth rounded hypocotyls, rather than ribbed ones, that are notably shorter, to 10 cm long. Reliable identification can only be made when plants hold advanced reproductive material. For this reason, the distribution of the species is poorly defined beyond Australia and the southern New Guinea coast ( [3]).

Ceriops species are difficult to tell apart without flowers or mature fruit. C. australis can be distinguished from other Ceriops species by it's smooth 9 cm long hypocotyl, petal tips with 3 lobes and peduncle length greater than width. Both C. tagal and C. pseudodecandra have ribbed hypocotyls ( [4], [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=36&Itemid=300174

A key to C. australis and C. tagal can also be found in [6].


C. australis is closely related to C. tagal and they were considered to be the same species until neighboring trees were shown to be genetically isolated ( [9]). Morphological and molecular evidence from [6] supports this split. Some states still recognise C. australis as a subspecies of C. tagal (Ceriops tagal var. australis) ( [10]).

Mangrove Watch: http://www.mangrovewatch.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=36&Itemid=300174

-- Main.Norm.Duke and EmmaClifton - 2012-07-19 - 16:20


  1. Duke, N.C. (2006). Australia's Mangroves. The authoritative guide to Australia's mangrove plants. University of Queensland, Brisbane. (more)
  2. Wightman, G. (2006b). Mangrove Plant Identikit from north Australia's Top End. Greening Australia NT, Darwin. (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. 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)
  6. Sheue, C.R., Yang, Y.P., Liu, H.Y., Chou, F.S., Chang, H.C., Saenger, P., Mangion, C.P., Wightman, G., Yong, J.W.H. and Tsai, C.C. (2009) Reevaluating the taxonomic status of Ceriops australis (Rhizophoraceae) based on morphological and molecular evidence. Botanical Studies 50(1): 89-100. Available online: http://epubs.scu.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1604&context=esm_pubs. (more)
  7. 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)
  8. Thom, B.G., Wright, L.D. and Coleman, J.M. (1975). Mangrove ecology and deltaic-estuarine geomorphology: Cambridge Gulf-Ord River, Western Australia. J. Ecol. 63(1): 202-232. Available online: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/2258851.pdf (more)
  9. Ballment E.R., Smith T.J. III and Stoddart JAS (1988). Sibling species in the mangrove genus, Ceriops Arn. (Rhizophoraceae), detected using biochemical genetics. Australian Systematic Botany 1: 391-397. (more)
  10. 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
OccursWith Aegialitis_annulata Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Avicennia_marina Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Bruguiera_exaristata Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Diospyros_littorea Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Excoecaria_agallocha Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Osbornia_octodonta Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Parkinsonia_aculeata Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Sporobolus_virginicus Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Tecticornia_halocnemoides Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Bruguiera_parviflora Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Cathormion Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Ceriops_pseudodecandra Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Ceriops_tagal Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Excoecaria_ovalis Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Lumnitzera_racemosa Vascular_Plants