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Sonneratia caseolaris

Sonnerata caseolaris fruit.jpg
Sonneratia caseolaris fruit. From Labuan Bakti, Simeulue, Indonesia.
Image: Wibowo Djatmiko

Common Names

Red-flowered Apple Mangrove [1]

Sonneratia caseolaris fruit.jpg
Sonneratia caseolaris fruit, Singapore Photo: John Yong



Name Reference

Sonneratia caseolaris (L.) Engl.

Origin of Name

‘Caseolare’ means small cheese (in Latin), and refers to the distinctive rounded shape of the fruit of this species, so named originally in 1743 by the extraordinarily observant Dutch naturalist Georgius Rumphius in Ambon.

Named for the French naturalist, Pierre Sonnerat (1748-1814), remembered for his explorations of New Guinea, Moluccas and China, including the first European description of lychee fruit ([1]).


Species Feature - Stamens and petals are mostly entirely red.

Botanical Description

Sonneratia caseolaris is generally a columnar, sparely branched tree growing to 20 m high. It has slender, cone-shaped, sometimes branched pneumatophores to 150 cm high.

Leaves are simple, opposite, elliptic (oval), 4.5-11 cm long and 2-7 cm wide with a 2-9 mm long petiole and pointed apex.

Flowers occur in clusters of 1-5 and have many large, red stamens.

The fruit is a swollen green berry to 6 cm wide and 3.5 cm long with persisting flat calyx tube ([2]).

Botanical Description


Tree to 20 m, generally columnar, sparely branched, evergreen; bark smooth or lightly fissured and flaky, grey to pale fleshy green; stem base simple; roots pneumatophores cone-shaped, slender, to 1.5 m L, tip narrow, branched.


Leaves opposite, simple, leathery, glabrous, elliptic, deep green fleshy, satiny upper, shiny below, 4.5-11 cm L, 2-7 cm W, margin entire, apex acute with small thickened mucro recurved under; petiole 2-9 mm L, light green, red to base, flattened; stipules absent.


Inflorescence terminal or axillary, 1-3(-5)-flowered dichasia; flowers closed bud ellipsoidal, constricted medially, green, satiny, coriaceous tending warty, 2.4-2.7 cm L, 1.5 cm W, apex acute mostly; calyx lobes 5-7, valvate, ovate-oblong, 1.4-1.9 cm L, apex acute, inner often red-streaked; petals 5-7, red, linear, membranous, 1.9-2.9 cm L, 1-3 mm W; stamens numerous along corolla rim, red, 3.7 cm L; ovary 13-20 locular; style terete, green, coiled in bud, extended at anthesis to 6.2 cm L, stigma fungiform to 3 mm W; fruit berry broadly globose, to 3.2 cm L, 1.7-5.4 cm W, persistent withered style; pericarp dark green, glabrous, glossy coriaceous, indistinct ribs; calyx persistent, tube tending flat expanded, knobbly, shiny green, glabrous, 2-4.6 cm W, lobes 5-7 spreading pointed, 1.8-3.0 cm L; seeds numerous within fleshy pulp of placenta.


Seeds irregular, angular,to 7 mm L, buoyant; germination epigeal.


Sonneratia caseolaris is found from the west coast of India to southem China and through the western islands of the Pacific Ocean, including New Guinea and northern Australia. In Australia, the distribution of this species is restricted to the northeast coast of Queensland where it is associated with areas of higher rainfall and larger river estuaries from the Olive River (12° 10’ S, 143° 05’ E) in the north, to the Murray River (18° 05’ S, 146° 01’ E) in the south ([1]).

Localities (not complete):


Sonneratia caseolaris occurs frequently in frontal stands in upstream estuarine positions of rivers subjected to high levels of freshwater runoff. Found in soft river silt and mud of accreting inside banks of upstream estuarine meanders ([1]).

Sonneratia caseolaris flower.jpg
Sonneratia caseolaris flower, Singapore Photo: John Yong


In Australia, flowering peaks during January, and propagule maturation occurs during June and July.

The species is often observed with Aegiceras corniculatum, Barringtonia racemosa, Rhizophora mucronata and Bruguiera sexangula ([1]).

Biological Interactions  
Group Taxon
  17 taxa
Vascular Plants Acanthus ilicifolius
Vascular Plants Acrostichum speciosum
Vascular Plants Aegiceras corniculatum
Vascular Plants Avicennia marina
Vascular Plants Barringtonia spp.
Vascular Plants Barringtonia racemosa
Vascular Plants Bruguiera gymnorhiza
Vascular Plants Bruguiera sexangula
Vascular Plants Ceriops pseudodecandra
Vascular Plants Cynometra iripa
Vascular Plants Excoecaria agallocha
Vascular Plants Heritiera littoralis
Vascular Plants Hibiscus tiliaceus
Vascular Plants Lumnitzera littorea
Vascular Plants Nypa fruticans
Vascular Plants Rhizophora mucronata
Vascular Plants Xylocarpus granatum

Similar Species

Sonneratia caseolaris is distinguished from other Sonneratia by: its red stamens rarely tinged pink to white toward distal ends; petals that are always narrowly ribbon-like and red; shiny green leaves with mostly rounded apices; numerous small irregular seeds; and, a flat calyx tube beneath the mature fruit being a rounded globose berry with shiny leathery surface. This species is similar to S. lanceolata especially where each is usually found in upriver locations of larger riverine tropical estuaries influenced by moderate to high rainfall. However, unlike S. lanceolata, S. caseolaris is restricted in Australia to north-eastern Queensland. The morphological characters that distinguish S. caseolaris from S. lanceolata include: broadly elliptic leaves with usually rounded apices; mostly red staminal filaments; a grooved calyx tube with satin-lustred coriaceous surface; and, a slight medial constriction about the closed flower bud prior to opening ([2]).


Mangrove Watch: http://www.mangrovewatch.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=41&Itemid=300196

Guide to Mangroves of Singapore: http://mangrove.nus.edu.sg/guidebooks/text/1074.htm

Sonneratia comparision2.jpg
Sonneratia caseolaris (middle). For comparison, Sonneratia ovata (left, doesn't occur in Australia) and Sonneratia alba (right), Singapore. Photo: John Yong

Sonnerata caseolaris flower.jpg
Sonneratia caseolaris flower, with corolla and anthers shed. From Labuan Bakti, Simeulue, Indonesia.
Image: Wibowo Djatmiko

Sonnerata caseolaris tree.jpg
Sonneratia caseolaris habit. From Labuan Bakti, Simeulue, Indonesia.
Image: Wibowo Djatmiko

Sonnerata caseolaris immature fruit.jpg
Young Sonneratia caseolaris fruit. From Labuan Bakti, Simeulue, Indonesia.
Image: Wibowo Djatmiko

Sonnerata caseolaris fruit open.jpg
Sonneratia caseolaris, opened fruit. From Labuan Bakti, Simeulue, Indonesia.
Image: Wibowo Djatmiko

Sonnerata caseolaris bud.jpg
Sonneratia caseolaris; twigs, leaves and flower bud. From Labuan Bakti, Simeulue, Indonesia.
Image: Wibowo Djatmiko


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

All taxa related to Sonneratia_caseolaris

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 Barringtonia_racemosa Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Bruguiera_gymnorhiza Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Bruguiera_sexangula Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Ceriops_pseudodecandra Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Cynometra_iripa Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Excoecaria_agallocha Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Heritiera_littoralis Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Hibiscus_tiliaceus Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Lumnitzera_littorea Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Nypa_fruticans Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Rhizophora_mucronata Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Xylocarpus_granatum Vascular_Plants
OccursWith Barringtonia Vascular_Plants