%IMAGEGALLERY{ "%BASEWEB%.%BASETOPIC%" exclude="arrow|igp_.*" sort="name" warn="0"}%

Heritiera littoralis

Heritiera littoralis all.jpg
Leaves flowers and fruit at Ala Moana Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii. Photo: Forest & Kim Starr

Common Names

Keeled-pod mangrove [1]


1792039 Heritiera littoralis.jpg
Heritiera littoralis flowers, © CSIRO

Name Reference

Heritiera littoralis Aiton

Origin of Name

Genus named in honour of French magistrate and one of the great amateurs of botany, Charles-Louis L’Heritier de Brutelle (1746-1800) – a survivor of the French revolution, and the one who first described Eucalyptus from Australia. ‘Littoral-is’ means within the littoral zone (in Latin), and refers to the tidal habit of this species ( [1]).


Species Feature - Keeled-pod of maturing fruits.


Botanical Description

GROWTH FORM Tree to 25 m, columnar, monoecious, evergreen, twigs greyish-white with stellate scales; bark grey to pale grey, patchy, fissured and flaky; stem base with large plank buttresses, spreading and sinuous; roots emergent lenticular above ground.

FOLIAGE Leaves alternate, simple, broad and floppy, oblong or ovate-elliptic, coriaceous, dark green above, pubescent pale green below, 10-20 cm L, 5-10 cm W, margins entire, apex obtusely pointed, veins prominent below; petiole 1-2 cm L, bi-pulvinate; stipules in pairs at each node, 1 cm L.

REPRODUCTIVE PARTS Inflorescence subterminal, complex tomentose panicles, unisexual flowers; flowers 4-5 mm L, 3-4 mm W, pedicel short, male smaller; calyx cup-shaped, reddish hairy inside, green hairy outside, 4-5(-6) short pointed lobes; petals absent; male flower stamens, 4-5(-6) fused, pistode; female flower staminodes minute, styles 4-5(-6) united, recurved stigmas; fruit keeled capsules, pendulous clusters, fall as propagules.

DISPERSAL PROPAGULE Fruit capsule 1-seeded, shiny yellow-green to brown, slightly flattened ellipsoidal, 6-8 cm L, 5-6 cm W, keel 5 mm high, epicarp woody, fibrous and hard; seeds semi- or oblong-ellipsoid, embryo as fused cotyledons, radicle directed ventrally, buoyant with capsule, germination hypogeal.

( [1]).


Heritiera littoralis is distributed from East Africa and Madagascar to Asia and the Pacific. In Australia, the species is found in Queensland estuaries from the Jardine River (10° 55' S, 142° 13’ E) in the north, to Saint Lawrence (22° 15' S, 149° 37’ E) in the south east ( [1]).

Localities (not complete):


High intertidal, intermediate estuarine position ( [1]).


In Australia, flowering occurs in February and March, and fruits mature mostly during September to December ( [1]).

Fruits float with the keel upward, presumably functioning as a sail, and they readily germinate in muddy sediments at the upper interidal zone ( [1]).

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 parviflora
Vascular Plants Bruguiera_sexangula
Vascular Plants Ceriops tagal
Vascular Plants Ceriops pseudodecandra
Vascular Plants Cynometra iripa
Vascular Plants Diospyros geminata
Vascular Plants Excoecaria agallocha
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 Sonneratia caseolaris
Vascular Plants Xylocarpus granatum
Vascular Plants Xylocarpus moluccensis

Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants: http://keys.trin.org.au/key-server/data/0e0f0504-0103-430d-8004-060d07080d04/media/Html/taxon/Heritiera_littoralis.htm

Guide to the Mangroves of Singapore: http://mangrove.nus.edu.sg/guidebooks/text/1062.htm

The Total Vascular Flora of Singapore Online: http://floraofsingapore.wordpress.com/2010/10/02/heritiera-littoralis/

Field Guide to Kenyan Mangroves: http://www.madeinnys.com/mangrove/h_littoralis.htm

Plants of Hawaii: http://www.hear.org/starr/images/species/?q=heritiera+littoralis&o=plants

PNG Trees Key: http://www.pngplants.org/PNGtrees/TreeDescriptions/Heritiera_littoralis_Aiton.html

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritiera_littoralis -- NormDuke and EmmaClifton - 2012-07-19 - 16:50

Heritiera littoralis Blanco2.341-cropped.jpg
Plate from Flora de Filipinas [...] Gran edicion [...] [Atlas II]..., 1880-1883?

P026038 Heritiera littoralis.jpg
Heritiera littoralis fruit. © CSIRO

Heritiera littoralis fruit.jpg
Green fruit at Keehi Lagoon, Oahu, Hawaii. Photo: Forest & Kim Starr

Heritiera littoralis fruit dry.jpg
Ripe fruit at Keehi Lagoon, Oahu, Hawaii. Photo: Forest & Kim Starr

Heritiera littoralis flowers.jpg
Leaves and flowers at Ala Moana Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii. Photo: Forest & Kim Starr

Heritiera littoralis leaves.jpg
Leaves at Keehi Lagoon, Oahu, Hawaii. Photo: Forest & Kim Starr


  1. Duke, N. (2011). Mangroves of Australia. Manuscript. Vers.: 27 Sept 2011. (more)
  2. 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)
  3. 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)
  4. Duke, N.C. (2006). Australia's Mangroves. The authoritative guide to Australia's mangrove plants. University of Queensland, Brisbane. (more)
  5. 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)
  6. 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)
  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)

Biological Interactions
Relation Taxon GroupSorted ascending
PreyOf Arhopara_micale Lepidoptera
HasEpiphyte Myriotrema_rugiferum Lichens
HasEpiphyte Parmotrema_saccatilobum Lichens
HasEpiphyte Pyxine_keralensis Lichens
HasEpiphyte Bostrychia_calliptera RedAlgae
HasEpiphyte Bostrychia_simpliciuscula 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_gymnorhiza Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Bruguiera_parviflora Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Bruguiera_sexangula 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 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 Sonneratia_caseolaris Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Xylocarpus_granatum Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Xylocarpus_moluccensis Vascular_Plants