Cannonball Mangrove (Xylocarpus Granatum)
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Cannonball Mangrove (Xylocarpus Granatum)

Learn more about the cannonball mangrove.

Have you ever seen a mangrove with cannonball-like fruits? Obviously, it’s named the cannonball mangrove.

Known scientifically as Xylocarpus granatum under Family Meliaceae, the cannonball mangrove is so named because of its cannonball-like fruits that contain about 12 to 18 seeds closely packed together. The seeds are arranged neatly like a puzzle, the reason why sometimes the cannonball mangrove is also called monkey-puzzle nuts.

Propagation of Seeds

When the fruits of the cannonball mangrove are fully ripe and fall unto the ground, the fruit either breaks scattering the seeds throughout or carried by inundating water at high tide. Eventually, the fruit lodges itself in mud where the young plant grows, that is, if temperature or salt levels are just right to allow its growth. Through this process, the mangrove is able to propagate itself.

cannonball mangrove picture

Fig. 1. Cannonball mangrove fruit.

Cannonball mangroves are widely distributed in the landward portions of the mangrove forest interspersed with other species of mangrove, most commonly with the ubiquitous genera of mangrove – the Rhizophora.

Leaves and Bark

The leaves of the cannonball mangrove are characteristically pinnately compound. Pinnately compound leaves are leaves in which leaflets are attached laterally along the stalk. Only few mangrove trees have this type of leaf.

The cannonball mangrove is easily identified in the field through its distinctive light and dark brown spots with generally pink-orange bark that peels off in some places. The leaves are oval-shaped and thickened at the brown base and the flowers are made up of small, pink clusters.

Root System

The cannonball mangrove is held firmly unto the muddy substrate by buttress and ribbon-type above-ground roots. The firm root system enables the cannonball mangrove to withstand the incoming waters at high tide that soften the earth and make it muddy.

cannonball mangrove roots

Fig. 2. Cannonball mangrove root system.

Distribution

The cannonball mangrove is fairly common in Southeast Asia and Australasia. In the Philippines, particularly in Palawan Island which has extensive mangrove-lined shores, cannonball mangroves are usually found in the inner portions of rivers next to coconut plantations. They are seldom seen near river mouths or areas inundated with high saline waters.

Ecological Services

The cannonball mangroves, as are other species of mangroves, are important species that help filter sediments carried by the rivers as well as runoff from land. Mammals living in the mangrove forests also feed on their fruits. Thus, these trees must be preserved.

©Patrick A. Regoniel 23 December 2010 Cannonball Mangrove (Xylocarpus granatum)

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Comments (1)

I often see this tree in Sta Cruz, Puerto Princesa City. Its only now that I know the name!

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