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Ceriops tagal

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Leaves and inflorescences of Ceriops tagal, Boondall Wet Lands, Brisbane QLD.
Photo: M. Fagg, © ANBG

Common Names

Rib-fruited Yellow Mangrove ( [1]).

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Leaves, inflorescences and propagules of Ceriops tagal, Cairns, QLD. Photo: F.Zich © CSIRO



Name Reference

Ceriops tagal (Perr.) C.B.Rob.

Origin of Name

‘Ceras-opsis’ means horn-like appearance (in Greek), and refers to the small hypocotyl emergent from fruits of this genus.

Species named apparently for the Tagal cultural group of the Philippines ( [2]).


Ceriops tagal is a tree or shrub growing to 25m, often found in dense single-species stands along the northern coastline of Australia. It has stocky buttresses, sometimes developing as looped surface roots, long peduncles and ribbed hypocotyls.

Species Feature - Maturing hypocotyl showing ribbing ( [2]).


Columnar or multi-stemmed tree or shrub growing 2 - 25 m high. The trunk has stout flanged buttresses, radiating anchor roots are often exposed and looped surface roots (pneumatophores) sometimes develop.

The leaves are opposite, glossy yellowish-green in colour, ovate to ovate-elliptic in shape, with a rounded apex, 3 - 11.5 cm long and 1.5 - 7.5 cm wide with 1.5 - 3.5 cm long petiole. Stipules are paired and flattened, 1-3 cm long with a rounded apex.

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Ceriops tagal propagules, Cairns, QLD. Photo: F.Zich © CSIRO

The inflorescence is a dense cluster of 2 - 12 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, 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, ribbed and 12 - 35 cm long and 0.5 cm wide ( [3], [1], [4], [5]).

Botanical Description


Tree or shrub to 25 m, evergreen, dense, columnar or multi-stemmed; bark grey-white to orange-brown, smooth with scattered pustular lenticels; stem base with stout flanged buttresses; roots pneumatophores sometimes developed as looped surface roots, radiating anchor roots are often exposed.


Leaves opposite, simple, glossy yellowish-green, ovate to ovate-elliptic, glabrous, 3.5-11.5 cm L, 1.5-7.5 cm W, margin entire, apex rounded, base cuneate; petiole yellowish-green, terete, to 2 cm L; stipules paired, flattened, yellowish-green, to 1-3 cm L, apex rounded, enclosing terminal bud.


Inflorescence axillary, 2-12-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, 4-5 mm L; petals 5(-6), creamy white becoming brown with age, oblong, 3 mm L, apex emarginate with 3 clavate bristles; stamens 10(-12), 2 enclosed by each petal, 2-5 mm L; style slender, 1-3 mm L; fruit inverted pear-shaped drupe, brown, finely coriaceous, 1-3 cm L, 0.5-1 cm W, 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, yellowish-green, ribbed, to 35 cm L, 0.5 cm W, distil tip bluntly pointed, distal half widest, buoyant.

( [2]).


Ceriops tagal is widely distributed from East Africa and Madagascar through India and Asia to New Guinea, Solomon Islands and northern Australia. In Australia, the species is found in estuaries along the northern coast from the Goomadeer River, Northern Territory (11° 51' S, 133° 50’ E) in the west, to Sarina Inlet, Queensland (21° 24' S, 149° 18’ E) in the east ( [2]).

Localities (not complete):


It often grows as broad monotypic stands across gently sloping tidal areas surrounding the wide estuarine deltas of sheltered coastlines ( [2]).

High-mid intertidal, downstream-intermediate estuarine position ( [2]).


In Australia, flowering peaks from January to March, and propagule maturation occurs from March to May ( [2]).

The flower buds of C. tagal appear to open mostly in the evening, emitting a faint fragrant odor. At anthesis, the petals are closed, enveloping the stamens in pairs exactly as in Bruguiera. Pollination maybe by night-flying insects. Pollen release is explosive, triggered by a delicate touch of the petals. The tension that sets this mechanism is generated by the enclosed stamen pair held back by the pouched petal ( [2]).

Propagules of Ceriops tagal 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). Ceriops seems to be the least palatable of the species, given its high tannin and crude fibre content. In those high intertidal forests where Ceriops forms almost monospecific stands, the major predator is Neosarmatium trispinosum ( [9]).

Biological Interactions  
Group Taxon
  29 taxa
Vascular Plants Acanthus ilicifolius
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 Camptostemon schultzii
Vascular Plants Ceriops pseudodecandra
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 Muellerolimon salicorniaceum
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 Xylocarpus granatum
Vascular Plants Xylocarpus moluccensis


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 species are difficult to tell apart without flowers or mature fruit. C. tagal can be distinguished from other Ceriops species by its long, slender peduncles holding the inflorescences (peduncle length > width), distinctly sunken calyx tube after fruit development, and slender, ribbed hypocotyls ( [1], [14]).

Further diagnostic characters include: petals enclosing paired stamens at anthesis and opening explosively, petal apices with three clavate appendages, stamens with long-slender filaments greater than the anthers ( [2]).

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 [15].


C. tagal is closely related to C. australis and they were considered to be the same species until neighboring trees were shown to be genetically isolated ( [16]). Morphological and molecular evidence from [15] supports this split. Some states still recognise C. australis as a subspecies of C. tagal (Ceriops tagal var. australis) ( [17]).

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

FloraBase: http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/5294

Guide to the Mangroves of Singapore: http://mangrove.nus.edu.sg/guidebooks/text/1056.htm

Wild Singapore: http://www.wildsingapore.com/wildfacts/plants/mangrove/ceriops/tagal.htm

Encyclopedia of Life: http://www.eol.org/pages/482832

Work Agroforetry Centre: http://www.worldagroforestrycentre.org/Sea/Products/AFDbases/AF/asp/SpeciesInfo.asp?SpID=18055

-- NormDuke and EmmaClifton - 2012-07-19 - 16:17

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Ceriops tagal leaves and propagules, Cairns, QLD. Photo: F.Zich © CSIRO

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Developing propagules of Ceriops tagal, Boondall Wet Lands, Brisbane QLD.
Photo: M. Fagg, © ANBG

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Ceriops tagal inflorescence, Boondall Wet Lands, Brisbane QLD
Photo: M. Fagg, © ANBG

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Newly opened flower of Ceriops tagal, Singapore. Photo: John Yong

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Mature propagule of Ceriops tagal, Singapore. Photo: John Yong

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Ceriops tagal propagule development, Singapore. Photo: John Yong


  1. Duke, N.C. (2006). Australia's Mangroves. The authoritative guide to Australia's mangrove plants. University of Queensland, Brisbane. (more)
  2. Duke, N. (2011). Mangroves of Australia. Manuscript. Vers.: 27 Sept 2011. (more)
  3. 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)
  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. 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)
  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. 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)
  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. (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)
  11. Semeniuk, V. (1980). Mangrove zonation along an eroding coastline in King Sound, north-western Australia. Journal of Ecology 68: 789-812. Available online: (more)
  12. 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)
  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. Wightman, G. (2006b). Mangrove Plant Identikit from north Australia's Top End. Greening Australia NT, Darwin. (more)
  15. 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)
  16. 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)
  17. 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
InhabitedBy Ceyx_pusilla Birds
PreyOf Metopograpsus_latifrons Crustaceans
PreyOf Metopograpsus_thukuhar Crustaceans
PreyOf Perisesarma_messa Crustaceans
PreyOf Parasesarma_moluccensis Crustaceans
PreyOf Neosarmatium_trispinosum Crustaceans
HasEpiphyte Hexagonia_tenuis Fungi
PreyOf Hypochrysops_apelles Lepidoptera
PreyOf Hypochrysops_narcissus Lepidoptera
PreyOf Hypolycaena_phorbas Lepidoptera
HasEpiphyte Dirinaria_applanata Lichens
HasEpiphyte Heterodermia_obscurata Lichens
HasEpiphyte Pannaria_mangroviana Lichens
HasEpiphyte Parmelia_erumpens Lichens
HasEpiphyte Parmotrema_norsticticatum Lichens
HasEpiphyte Parmotrema_rampoddense Lichens
HasEpiphyte Parmotrema_saccatilobum Lichens
InfectedBy Pyrenographa_irregularis Lichens
HasEpiphyte Pyxine_cocoes Lichens
HasEpiphyte Pyxine_farinosa Lichens
HasEpiphyte Pyxine_keralensis Lichens
HasEpiphyte Pyxine_pungens Lichens
HasEpiphyte Ramalina_confirmata Lichens
HasEpiphyte Ramalina_exiguella Lichens
HasEpiphyte Ramalina_inflata_perpusilla Lichens
HasEpiphyte Ramalina_leiodea Lichens
HasEpiphyte Ramalina_luciae Lichens
HasEpiphyte Ramalina_nervulosa Lichens
HasEpiphyte Ramalina_pacifica Lichens
HasEpiphyte Ramalina_peruviana Lichens
HasEpiphyte Ramalina_subfraxinea_nortstictica Lichens
HasEpiphyte Ramalina_tenella Lichens
HasEpiphyte Ramalina_tropica Lichens
OccursWith Acanthus_ilicifolius Vascular_Plants
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 Camptostemon_schultzii Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Ceriops_australis Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Ceriops_pseudodecandra 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 Muellerolimon_salicorniaceum 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 Suaeda_australis Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Tecticornia_halocnemoides Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Xylocarpus_granatum Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Xylocarpus_moluccensis Vascular_Plants