Cedars of a mangrove

Mangroves can be a challenge to know. But it is a fun challenge to look at them closely and get to love their subtle differences.

For years I have been vexed by how to tell the two common Cedar Mangroves (Xylocarpus) apart and recently I decided to take a CLOSER look. Happily there was flowering material (not like that helps a lot actually).

Then I found that the two actually may have some very distinctive features even if they are not in flower.

The first feature that is used is the bark. X. granatum has smooth bark while X. moluccensis has fissured bark.

Xylocarpus granatum DSC_0265 (3)
Smooth bark of X. granatum

Xylocarpus moluccensis DSC_0260 (4)
Rough bark of X. moluccensis

The leaflets of X. granatum are thicker, and have a more tapering base, and are wider towards the tip, while X. moluccensis is thinner and has a rounder leaflet base, and somewhat ovate to eye-shaped leaflets.

Xylocarpus granatum DSC_0265 (1)
X. granatum leaflet

Xylocarpus moluccensis DSC_0260 (6)
X. moluccensis leaflet

In the individuals I looked at, X. granatum also had sort of a level or slightly depressed midrib on the upper side of the leaflets, while X. moluccensis had a slightly raised midrib.

X. granatum also has the base of the trunk extending into a plank-like buttress, while X. moluccensis has pneumatophores (breadthing roots) that stick out from the mud.

In terms of their flowers and fruits, those of X. granatum are also larger.

Another species, Xylocarpus rumphii, also occurs in Northern Queensland and I will see this in Australia sometime. This species supposedly has almost heart-shaped leaflet bases.


About David Tng

I am David Tng, a hedonistic botanizer who pursues plants with a fervour. I chase the opportunity to delve into various aspects of the study of plants. I have spent untold hours staring at mosses and allied plants, taking picture of pollen, culturing orchids in clean cabinets, counting tree rings, monitoring plant flowering times, etc. I am currently engrossed in the study of plant ecology (a grand excuse to see 'anything I can). Sometimes I think of myself as a shadow taxonomist, a sentimental ecologist, and a spiritual environmentalist - but at the very root of it all, a "plant whisperer"!
This entry was posted in Habitat - Mangrove, Learning Plants, Lifeform - Trees & Shrubs, Meliaceae (Mahogany family) and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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