Black mangrove is a much ramified shrub or evergreen tree, up to 8 m tall, even if, usually, it keeps lower, around the 2-4 m, with grey or reddish brown bark in the young branches, tending to blacken and to fissure with the age. It has simple, pale green, alternate and succulent leaves, grouped at the extremities of the branches, 4-7 cm long and 1-3 cm broad, obovate, oblanceolate or spatulate, with corrugated edges and rounded extremity with a small notch at the apex (“emarginated” leaf).
The inflorescences are axillar, long up to about 6 cm, usually carrying few hermaphrodite, perfumed flowers, with an about 1 cm long coralline tube, corolla with 5 petals each 5 mm long and of white colour and 5-10 stamina as long as the petals or little more.
The fruits are ovoid drupes slightly flattened laterally, fibrous, of blackish brown colour when ripe, 1-2 cm long and 6-8 mm broad, containing only one ovoid seed; the fruits can float and this facilitates their dispersion by means of the water.
Among the mangroves, it is one of the plants which better tolerate the highest rate of salinity in the soil, up to the 90 per mill after some researchers, but it stands also among the few bearing conditions of dry soil and therefore is capable to diffuse in environments differing from the typical ones of the mangroves; this versatility makes it a potential infester in the tropical and subtropical areas.
It is found on the eastern coast of Africa and other places in the western Indo-Pacific region.
Occurrence in Maldives: Mangroves areas of the Maldives.
It prefers relatively less moist, well drained, sandy soil mixed with clay for better performance. It also prefers relatively higher ground level than other mangrove plants. It is a non-viviparous mangrove species and seeds are similar to terrestrial plants. It is normally propagated by nursery-raised seedlings and wildlings. Mature fruits are brown in colour and can be easily collected from trees or gathered from ground. Fruits are normally used for planting instead of seeds. Fruits are sown in a slanting position in containers, keeping half of the fruit inside the mud. Fruits should be stored in wet condition for three to five days before sowing. Germination rate decreases with increasing salinity and no germination will be seen if the salinity increases beyond 25 ppt. Nursery-raised seedlings 20 to 30 cm, which can be obtained within a period of ten months, can be used for out planting.
Mangroves in general are under threat from coastal development, and this species, which grows on the landward edge of the mangrove area, may be more threatened by rising sea levels than are other species because it may be unable to move further inland. There may be a decline in populations of this species due to habitat loss or harvesting, but it is a common species of mangrove with a very wide range, and is not declining at a sufficient rate to be included in any threatened category, so it is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as being of "least concern".
In its original locations, the wood of black mangrove, due to its resistance and duration, is utilized as structural material in constructions, as sleepers, fences, boats, etc.; moreover, it is excellent firewood.
Fluid substance made from incisions in the stem, mixed with coconut oil, used as anti-herpetic and as cure of itches.