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Sonneratia ovata Backer

Sonneratia ovata Backer




Sonneratia alba auct., non J. Smith.

Vernacular Names


Gedabu (Peninsular Malaysia), (pedada) rogam (Sarawak).






Bogem (Palembang), kedabu (East Sumatra).


Ampea, lapea.




B[aaf]n [oor]i, b[aaf]n h[oo]i.

Geographical Distributions

Sonneratia ovata is found scattered in widely separate localities from China and Thailand through Peninsular Malaysia, the Riau Archipelago, Java, and Bor­neo, to Sulawesi, the Moluccas, and Daru Island and Milne Bay in New Guinea. References to its occurrence in Queensland and the Northern Terri­tory in Australia have been disclaimed. It is local­ly numerous, but on the whole rather rare.


Sonneratia ovata is a columnar tree, that can grow up to 2-5(-20) m tall, with its stem up to 20 cm in diameter. The stem is short and usually twisted, not buttressed at the base, and sur­rounded by thin and pointed pneumatophores about 20 cm long. The bark is grey, smooth to slightly fissure and lenticellate. The inner bark is pale brown to reddish, faintly laminated and rather watery. The sapwood is pale yellow and soft. The greyish brown twigs are distinctly joint above the nodes, quadrangular when young and become cylindrical with age.

The simple leaves are arranged opposite and exstipu­late. The petiole is 2-15 mm long. The blade is usually ovate to orbicular or broadly ovate, and measuring 4-10 cm x 3-9 cm. The base is rounded or subcordate, broadly rounded at apex, with glossy up­per surface and slightly corrugated with 9-16, fine but conspicuous lateral veins.

The flowers are bisexu­al, usually in terminal groups of 2-3(-4) and occasion­ally solitary. The pedicel is 1-2 cm long and sometimes absent. The buds measure 1.5-3 cm x 1-1.5 cm which are broadly ovoid, rounded or obtuse at apex and finely warty. The sepal is per­sistent. Its tube is cup-shaped, tapering abruptly into a stalk-like base, usually with 6 ribbed segments, ovate-triangular, measures 13-15 mm long and the inner surface is markedly reddish cream at the base. The petals are absent or vestigial. There are many stamens with filaments about 2 cm long, and with white and yellow anthers. The ovary is l0-15-celled with style about 2.5 cm long.

The fruit is an indehiscent, flat­tened spherical berry that rests on the sepal tube. It is 3-5 cm in diameter, 2-3 cm thick, dark green when young and turns to yellowish-green when ripens. The seeds are numerous, rounded, irregular, measure about 5 mm long and embedded in foul-smelling pulp. The embryo is straight.

Ecology / Cultivation

Sonneratia ovata is occasionally found on the banks of tidal creeks and rivers, and on muddy soils inundated only by spring tides. Its fruits float, so wa­ter is the normal means of dispersal. It is found as individual trees, scattered among other mangrove species, such as Excoecaria agallocha L. S. ovata has never been found forming pure stands similar to S. alba and has also never been recorded from coral reefs.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No.11: Auxiliary plants.

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