Flora Singapura





Calophyllum innophyllum
Common Names: 
Penaga Laut
Critically Endangered

C. innophyllum is happiest when growing in the salt laden air along a rocky shoreline. It is also reasonably happy growing inland as is testified by the large heritage tree growing at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.  The Calophyllum genus is represented by some 36? species most of which are medium and large trees of the inland forest and generally referred to as Bintangor by the Malay's.  This species however stands out due to its different habitat preference and form and as such has been allotted a unique vernacular name - Penaga Laut. In the Malay language, Penaga translates to Ironwood and laut translates to sea so the name is descriptive of the hard timber produced by this species as well as its preferred habitat. Trees that inhabit coastal areas often include the word laut in their local name, e.g. Jumbu Laut (Sea Apple). 


A friend of mine once related to me how many years ago as a young girl she would play with her friends by jumping between the low horizontal branches of the Penaga Laut pretending that they were escaping the jaws of the Buaya Laut (crocodile).  It seems that this childhood game has been instrumental in preparing her for adulthood where she has spent all her life escaping from the clutches of the Buaya Darat (“land crocodile”) and as a result she remains unmarried to this day. 

A young girl ready to escape the jaws of a buaya on the rocky coastline of Sentosa Island.
Tough leaves for tough salty conditions.
The Low horizontal spreading branching is typical.
Flowers and buds of C. innophyllum
Close-up of a salt encrusted leaf