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Lumnitzera littorea

Lumnitzera littorea.jpg
Terminal clusters of red flowers on Lumnitzera littorea, Tonga.
Image: Tau'olunga

Common Names

Red-flowered Black Mangrove

Lumnitzera littorea buds.jpg
Lumnitzera littorea buds , Singapore. Photo: John Yong



Name Reference

Lumnitzera littorea (Jack) Voigt

Origin of Name

Named in honour of the German botanist, Stefani Lumnitzer (1750-1806), who pioneered the systematic description of Central European plants.

‘Littorea’ means belonging to the littoral zone (in Latin), and refers to the coastal habit of this species ( [1]).


Lumnitzera littorea occurs either as a spectacular tall columnar tree, emergent from the surrounding forest, or as a gnarled shrubby thicket of twisted stems.

Species Feature - Flowers with red petals and eccentric-placed style, plus stamens twice as long as petal lobes ( [1]).


Botanical Description


Tree or shrub to 25 m, columnar or multi-stemmed and sprawling, evergreen; twigs smooth, green becoming brown; bark dark brown-grey, deeply fissured and flaky; stem base simple, short buttresses, if any; root knees, slender, wiry, often looped above-ground, 10 cm L.


Leaves alternate, simple, flat and succulent, narrowly obovate-elliptic, dark green, 4-9 cm L, 1-2.5 cm W, entire, glabrous, apex rounded and emarginate, base narrowly cuneate; petiole rounded, 3-5 mm L; stipules absent.


Inflorescence terminal racemes, 5-15 flowered, 2-3 cm L; flowers perfect, 16-18 mm L, slightly zygomorphic, shortly pedicellate with a pair of short bracteoles inserted on reddish-green calyx tube, glabrous, 8-15 mm L; calyx lobes 5, ovate, rounded with pointed apex, 1 mm L; petals 5, deep red to bright orangy-red, glabrous, ovate with pointed apex, 3-4 mm L, erect; stamens 10, on inner rim of calyx cup, twice as long as petals; style simple, glabrous, persistent, positioned to one side of deep calyx cup filled with abundant nectar; fruit cluster of drupes, fall as propagules.


Fruit drupe 1-seeded, hard, oblong-ellipsoid, flattened, glabrous, green to reddish brown, to 1.5 cm L, 0.5 cm W, style and calyx lobes persistent, epicarp fibrous, buoyant as drupe; seed linear, germination hypogeal.

( [1]).


Lumnitzera littorea occurs from India to China through Asia, and into the south-western Pacific and northern Australia. In Australia, the species is distributed along the northern coastline from around Cox Peninsula, Northern Territory (12° 41' S, 130° 023’ E) in the west, to the Herbert River, Queensland (18° 31' S, 146° 19’ E) in the east. A possible occurrence in Western Australia has been discounted ( [1]).

Localities (not complete):


Tree growing on loam, firm mud on river banks. The habit differs from L. racemosa where the red-flowered species favours intermediate estuarine locations well within the tidal range. These sites may be characterised by relatively lower salinities and more constant moist sediments. Lumnitzera littorea rarely occurs as monotypic stands, even when it forms thickets in association with other species.

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


The showy red flowers provide a colourful display that also attracts aggressive nectar gatherers, like noisy parrots. The snapped-off inflorescences these birds leave on the ground beneath the tall trees provides a convenient means to sample the foliage and identify the species. Pollinators are usually also birds, but less destructive ones like honeyeaters and sunbirds ( [1]).

Lumnitzera littorea rarely occurs as monotypic stands, even when it forms thickets in association with other species like Ceriops tagal, Rhizophora stylosa and Bruguiera gymnorhiza. The two Lumnitzera species occasionally grow together.

In Australia, flowering peaks around November and fruits mature during February and March ( [1]).

Biological Interactions
Group Taxon
  26 taxa
Vascular Plants Acanthus ilicifolius
Vascular Plants Acrostichum speciosum
Vascular Plants Aegiceras corniculatum
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 Ceriops tagal
Vascular Plants Cynometra iripa
Vascular Plants Diospyros geminata
Vascular Plants Excoecaria agallocha
Vascular Plants Heritiera littoralis
Vascular Plants Lumnitzera racemosa
Vascular Plants Nypa fruticans
Vascular Plants Osbornia octodonta
Vascular Plants Rhizophora apiculata
Vascular Plants Rhizophora X lamarckii
Vascular Plants Rhizophora stylosa
Vascular Plants Scyphiphora hydrophylacea
Vascular Plants Sonneratia alba
Vascular Plants Sonneratia caseolaris
Vascular Plants Xylocarpus granatum
Vascular Plants Xylocarpus moluccensis

Similar Species

Lumnitzera littorea is distinguished from L. racemosa by its terminal racemes of flowers with short, erect, red petals half as long as stamens, and eccentric style placement ( [1]).

Mangrove Watch: http://www.mangrovewatch.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=38&Itemid=300170

Guide to the Mangroves of Singapore: http://mangrove.nus.edu.sg/guidebooks/text/1065.htm

Wild Singapore: http://www.wildsingapore.com/wildfacts/plants/mangrove/lumnitzera/littorea.htm

Flora of China: http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200014739

-- NormDuke and EmmaClifton - 2012-07-19 - 16:53

Lumnitzera comparison.jpg
Comparison of flower colour. Lumnitzera racemosa (white) on left and Lumnitzera littorea (red) on right , Singapore. Photo: John Yong


  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. 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)

Biological Interactions
Relation Taxon GroupSorted ascending
OccursWith Acanthus_ilicifolius Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Acrostichum_speciosum Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Aegiceras_corniculatum 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_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 Leptochloa_fusca 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_stylosa Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Scyphiphora_hydrophylacea Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Sonneratia_alba Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Sonneratia_caseolaris Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Xylocarpus_granatum Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Xylocarpus_moluccensis Vascular_Plants