Species Details

Details of Pemphis will be displayed below


Common Name: Shrubby Coral Pemphis
Scientific Name: Pemphis acidula
Local Name: ku're'dhi
Dhivehi Name: ކުރެދި ގަސް
Plantae  (Kingdom)
Tracheophyta  (Plylum)
Magnoliopsida  (Class)
Myrtales  (Order)
Lythraceae  (Family)
Pemphis   (Genus)

Pemphis's description

An evergreen, much-branched, slow growing shrub or small tree 4 to 6 m tall with crooked and twisted stem. The lower branches, even though dry, are persistent and rigid, and as the trees grow very closely, they form impenetrable thickets. No prominent aerial roots are present. Twigs are angular and hairy. Bark is light grey to brown, flaky in old trees. Leaves are simple, opposite in arrangement, oblong to lanceolate in shape, 0.5 to 2.2 cm long and 0.2 to 1 cm wide, round or bluntly acute at the tip and hairy on both the sides. Inflorescence is one to a few flowered cymes, axillary in position and hairy. Flowers are white or pinkish-white in colour and 0. 7 to 1.0 cm across; calyx is tubular, 12- lobed, green in colour and hairy. Petals are six, white and inserted between calyx lobes. Fruit is tubular with rounded apex, about 1 cm long and 0.3 to 0.5 cm wide, densely hairy and green in young and brown when matured. Each fruit contains 20 to 30 small seeds.

Pemphis's facts

  • Pemphis acidula is one of the plant species used in bonsai, particularly in Asia

Pemphis's Behavior & Ecology

It grows on a variety of soil including coastal fine sand, coastal limestone rock, cliffs, coral conglomerate, limestone bedrock outcrops of atolls etc. It is able to grow in places where seawater wet its roots regularly during the high tide. It has a wide tropical and sub-tropical distribution. It is found in East Africa and throughout the Indian Ocean, including the British Indian Ocean Territory, Mozambique, Tanzania, and the Seychelles. In South Asia, Pemphis acidula occurs throughout Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, north to Japan and as far west as Sri Lanka. Pemphis acidula is also widespread throughout the Australasian region and the Pacific Islands

Pemphis's Reproduction

It is propagated by seeds, wildlings and roots suckers. Seeds are not directly sown in the field. Nursery-raised seedlings are used for outplanting. Mature fruits can be easily identified by their brown colour and each fruit contains 20 to 30 very small seeds which can be collected by gently pressing the matured fruits. Collected seeds should be subjected to floating test and seeds that float are viable. Seeds may be kept soaked for one to two days before planting in containers. Nursery-raised seedlings 15 to 20 cm can be used for outplanting. Propagation by wildlings is relatively less successful compared to nursery raised seedlings. It can also be propagated by planting straight stems with roots in suitable places. It needs to be pruned to get straight poles.

Pemphis's Relationship with Humans

It is one of the most favoured timbers in the Maldives. Heartwood is very hard, heavy, strong and durable and resistant to wood-boring molluscs and termites. It is used for boat building, particularly for internal beams and pegs to hold together planks. It is also favoured for carved objects such as tool handles (long knife, axe etc.), chess coins, toys and other handicrafts. It is a preferred firewood but with a very hot flame.

The wood of this species has been traditionally valued in many cultures for it is hard and heavy, as well as resistant to rot and warping. It also has naturally a fine finish and may be fashioned into walking canes, fence posts, tool handles, and even anchors. In Réunion and Mauritius it is known as bois matelot. Pemphis acidula is also one of the plant species used in bonsai, particularly in Asia.


Pemphis habitat

This species lives in calcarious rocky and sandy beaches high in the intertidal zone, and often above the high tide line. This species is beneficial for shoreline protection against high wind. It is a very sturdy and resilient plant, however, it will not grow anywhere other than the appropriate habitat type.

Pemphis threats

Collection for trade as bonsai ornaments is a local threat to this species. Although local estimates are uncertain due to differing legislative definitions of what is a 'mangrove' and to the imprecision in determining mangrove area, current consensus estimates of mangrove loss in the last quarter-century report an approximately 21% decline in mangrove areas in countries within this species range since 1980 (FAO 2007).

All mangrove ecosystems occur within mean sea level and high tidal elevations, and have distinct species zonations that are controlled by the elevation of the substrate relative to mean sea level. This is because of associated variation in frequency of elevation, salinity and wave action (Duke et al. 1998). With rise in sea-level, the habitat requirements of each species will be disrupted, and species zones will suffer mortality at their present locations and re-establish at higher elevations in areas that were previously landward zones (Ellison 2005). If sea-level rise is a continued trend over this century, then there will be continued mortality and re-establishment of species zones. However, species that are easily dispersed and fast growing/fast producing will cope better than those which are slower growing and slower to reproduce.

In addition, mangrove area is declining globally due to a number of localized threats. The main threat is habitat destruction and removal of mangrove areas. Reasons for removal include cleared for shrimp farms, agriculture, fish ponds, rice production and salt pans, and for the development of urban and industrial areas, road construction, coconut plantations, ports, airports, and tourist resorts. Other threats include pollution from sewage effluents, solid wastes, siltation, oil, and agricultural and urban runoff. Climate change is also thought to be a threat, particularly at the edges of a species range. Natural threats include cyclones, hurricane and tsunamis.

Pemphis's status