Barringtonia asiatica (L.) Kurz


Barringtonia asiatica (L.) Kurz




Barringtonia speciosa J.R. Forster & J.G. Forster.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Putat laut, butong, putat ayer (Peninsular).
English Sea putat.
Indonesia Butun (Javanese, Sundanese), bitung (Northern Sulawesi), keben-keben (Balinese).
Thailand Chik ta lae, don ta lae (Peninsular).
Papua New Guinea

Maliou (Plitty, Manus Province).

Philippines Botong (Tagalog, Bikol), boton (Tagalog), bitung (Bisaya).
Myanmar Kyi-git.
Vietnam B[af]ng qu[ar] vu[oo]ng.

Geographical Distributions

Barringtonia asiatica is distributed from Madagascar to Sri Lanka, India, Burma (Myanmar), Indo-China, the Andaman Islands, Thailand, throughout the Malesian region towards northern Australia and into the Pacific, east to Samoa and the Society Islands (Tahiti); also planted within this region and introduced into East Africa, Hawaii, and the West Indies.


Barringtonia asiatica is a tree which can reach up to 7-20(-30) m tall. Its trunk measures 25-100 cm in diametre while the twigs measure 6-10 mm in diametre and with large leaf scars.

The leaves are obovate or obovate-oblong, measuring (15-)20-38(-52) cm x (7-)10-18(-21) cm, with wedge-shaped base, emarginate to mucronate at apex, with entire, distinct marginal vein, hairless and with very short petiole.

The raceme is terminal, rarely axillary, erect, measures 2-15(-20) cm long and (3-)7(-20)-flowered while the pedicel is 4-8 cm long where the opening buds are 2-4 cm long. The sepal tube is about 3 mm long, not accrescent, rupturing in 2 unequal segments and green while the 4 elliptical petals are convex, measuring 5-9 cm x 2-5 cm and white. The stamens are in 6 whorls, measure (8-)12(-15) cm long, white at the base and reddish at the apex. The ovary is 4(-5)-celled, with style 9-14 cm long, white at base, reddish at apex and it is accrescent to 15 cm.

The berry is ovate, measuring 8.5-11 cm x 8.5-10 cm, tapers to the apex, sharply tetragonous at the emarginate base, and layered with a thin exocarp with glandular dots and a shining cuticle. The mesocarp measures 2-2.5 cm thick and spongy while the endocarp is a thick layer of longitudinal anastomosing fibres between 2 thin membranes. The oblong seed measures 4-5 cm x 2.5-4 cm, subtetragonous and it tapers to the emarginate apex.

Ecology / Cultivation

Barringtonia asiatica is an almost exclusively littoral species, in some localities, trees may grow further inland on calcareous hills or cliffs, generally growing on sandy beaches or coral sand flats, along rivers or in mangrove swamps at sea level, occasionally up to 350 m altitude.

Line Drawing / Photograph


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  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No.12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2.