Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Heritiera littoralis Aiton

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Flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves and fruits. © CSIRO
Fruit. © W. T. Cooper
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon and 1st leaf stage, hypogeal germination. © CSIRO
Seedling with 6 leaves. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Aiton, W. (1789) Hortus Kewensis 3: 546. Type: Nat. of the East India Islands: Zeylon, J. G. Koenig, M.D. Pulo Condore. Mr. Dav. Nelson. Introd. 1780, by Sir Joseph Banks, Bart.

Common name

Looking-glass Mangrove; Lookingglass Tree; Beach Tulip Oak; Red Mangrove; Tulip Mangrove; Looking Glass Tree


A tree with conspicuous, branched, sinuous, plank buttresses.


Leaf blade rather large, about 14-29 x 7-13 cm, silvery white to dull, pale brown on the underside (stellate-scaly), very abruptly narrowed into a comparatively short petiole. Twig bark strong and fibrous when stripped. Pores just visible with the naked eye in the twig pith.


Perianth about 5-7 mm long, stellate pubescent on both the inner and outer surfaces. Perianth lobes shorter than the perianth tube.


Fruiting carpel ellipsoid, about 5-10 x 3-6 cm, surface smooth, keeled on one side, but not winged. Seed surrounded by a fibrous pericarp about 5-10 mm thick, testa +/- fleshy. Cotyledons +/- globular, about 20-25 mm diam.


First pair of leaves linear, base auriculate, lower surface white or silvery from numerous flat scales. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade elongate-elliptic to linear, apex acuminate, base auriculate, upper surface with scattered brown or silvery scales, lower surface white or silvery from numerous scales; petiole, terminal bud and stem clothed in brown scales. Seed germination time 65 to 201 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in CYP, NEQ and CEQ. Altitudinal range quite small, normally at or slightly above sea level. Grows on the edge of mangrove forest. Also occurs in Africa, Asia, Malesia and the Pacific islands.

Natural History & Notes

Food plant for the larval stages of the Common Oakblue Butterfly. Common & Waterhouse (1981).

This species may have medicinal properties. ( /herbage/A13062.htm)

The leaves of this species are regarded as a contraceptive. Cribb (1981).

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