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Sonneratia caseolaris - (L.) Engl.

Common Name Firefly mangrove, mangrove apple
Family Lythraceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Coastal mangrove communities, tidal creeks, in muddy soil[266 ]. Less salt parts of mangrove-forests on a deeply muddy soil, never on coral-banks, often along tidal creeks with slow-moving water and ascending these as far as the flood mounts[451 ].
Range E. Asia - S. China, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, New Guinea, northern Australia, Pacific Islands.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Wet Soil Full sun
Sonneratia caseolaris Firefly mangrove, mangrove apple

Sonneratia caseolaris Firefly mangrove, mangrove apple
Wibowo Djatmiko (Wie146), wikimedia.org


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Sonneratia caseolaris or known as Firefly Mangrove, Red-flowered Pornupan Mangrove, or Mangrove Apple is an evergreen, tropical, medium-sized tree with columnar crown growing about 6-20 m tall and 30 cm in trunk diameter, commonly in East Asia. It has pencil-like pneumatophores, or aerial roots. The trunk is swollen at the base when young. The leaves are thick but narrow, opposite, and leathery. The flowers occur singly, with red, narrow petals, and green sepals. The fruits are round and hard containing many seeds. The fruits, known source of pectin, are cooked, or used for vinegar or beverages. Young fruits are used as flavoring. Young leaves can be consumed raw. The plant is a folk remedy for sprains, swellings, and worms. It is also used against coughs, hematuria, smallpox, and cuts and bruises. The plant is planted in coastal swamp areas to control soil erosion. The bark is a tannin source. Vertical roots are used as floats for fish nets and in the manufacture of inner soles for shoes. The wood is used for piles, posts, poles, railway t

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Sonneratia caseolaris is an evergreen Tree growing to 15 m (49ft) by 15 m (49ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Moths, bats, birds.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Blatti acida (L. f.) Lam. Rhizophora caseolaris L. Sonneratia acida L. f. Sonneratia evenia Blume So

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Leaves
Edible Uses: Pectin

Young berries - raw or cooked[301 , 451 ]. They can be eaten as a fruit, or cooked as a vegetable[418 ]. A sour flavour[451 ]. A cheese-like flavour[301 ]. The fruits are a source of pectin[418 ]. Young leaves - raw[418 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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Antitussive  Haemostatic  Parasiticide  Poultice  Skin

The plant is said to be haemostatic[269 ]. It is a folk remedy for sprains, swellings, and worms[269 ]. The old fruit walls are used as a treatment for worms[269 ]. Half-ripe fruits are a treatment for coughs[269 ]. The fruits are used to make poultices[269 ]. The pounded leaves are used as a treatment for haematuria and smallpox[269 ]. The leaves are crushed, mixed with salt and applied as a poultice onto cuts and bruises[269 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Fuel  Furniture  Parasiticide  Pectin  Pioneer  Soil stabilization  Tannin  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: A very important tree in the coastal swamp community, helping to protect the soil from erosion and providing an important habitat for wildlife[K ]. A fast-growing, pioneering species that colonizes newly formed mudflats and can expand rapidly in number, especially in optimum conditions of low salinity[338 ]. Other Uses The pneumatophores (vertical roots rising above ground) are used as floats for fish nets and, being corky in texture, are employed in the manufacture of inner soles for shoes and can be used as a substitute for cork or pith[345 ]. The roots are boiled before being used[451 ]. The bark is a source of tannins[418 ]. The heartwood is light brown to dark chocolate, the sapwood light greyish brown and 3 - 8cm thick[345 ]. When wet or under varnish, the heartwood of old mature trees looks almost black. The grain is straight or very slightly crossed; the texture fine, very homogeneous, smooth, but not glossy; it has a distinct salty taste and a fishy or swampy odour, especially when fresh[345 ]. The wood is moderately hard and moderately heavy to heavy[345 ]. It is easy to work; lasts well in the ground and even the sapwood is rarely attacked by insects; the heartwood is said to resist teredos very well[345 ]. The wood contains a small amount of salt, making the use of copper nails and screws necessary. It is used for piles, posts, poles, railway ties, paving blocks; ship, bridge, and wharf building; general strong construction; doors; siding, sheathing, ceiling, flooring, and all kinds of interior finish; ship planking and decking; furniture and cabinetwork; and musical instruments[345 ]. The wood is used for fuel, but only when better woods are not available[451 ].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of coastal areas in the tropics. It grows best where the mean annual minimum and maximum temperatures are within the range 20 - 30°c, though it tolerates 10 - 38°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall of 1,500 - 2,500mm, tolerating 1,000 - 3,000mm, and succeeds in areas with no dry season as well as those with a dry season. Prefers a sunny position[418 ]. Prefers a heavy soil, but tolerates most soil types[418 ]. Grows in areas that are inundated by salt water at high tides. Prefers a pH in the range 6.7 - 7.3, but tolerates 6.5 - 7.5[418 ]. Plants are tolerant of strong, salt-laden winds. The flowers are nocturnal, opening in the evening and closing in the early morning[451 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - it has a low viability of less than three months[338 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Red-flowered Pornupan mangrove, Ampie-lpu, Archa, Archaka, Ban chua, Bedat, Bedata, Berembang, Berombong, Betah, Bidada, Blatti, Bogem, Chipi, Gedaba, Jedaba, Kandale, Kapidada, Kinnari, Kirala, Lam pu, Lampoo, Ora, Orcha, Pat, Pedada, Perepat, Sundarignua, Thirala, Tiwar, apple mangrove|kirilla / kirala.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Australia; Bangladesh; Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; China; India; Indonesia; Malaysia; Maldives; Myanmar; New Caledonia; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Vanuatu; Viet Nam, Africa, Asia, Burma, Indochina, Pacific, Pakistan, PNG, SE Asia, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Least Concern

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Expert comment


(L.) Engl.

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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