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Conocarpus erectus L.

Button mangrove

Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.

  1. Uses
  2. Folk Medicine
  3. Chemistry
  4. Description
  5. Germplasm
  6. Distribution
  7. Ecology
  8. Cultivation
  9. Harvesting
  10. Yields and Economics
  11. Energy
  12. Biotic Factors
  13. References


The heavy wood (sp. grav. 1-0) is durable and takes a fine polish. Durable in water, it is used for barges, boats, and maritime construction. Though suceptible to dry-wood termites, it is also used for crossties, fences, and turnery. Describing it as keeping well underground and in salt water, Irvine (1961) notes it is used for piling and firewood. Bark has been used for tanning leather. Sometimes introduced as an ornamental evergreen.

Folk Medicine

Reported to be astringent, styptic, and tonic, button mangrove is a folk remedy for anemia, catarrh, conjunctivitis, diabetes, diarrhea, fever, gonorrhea, headache, hemorrhage, orchitis, pricklyheat, swellings, and syphilis (Duke and Wain, 1981; Irvine, 1961; Morton, 1981). The leaves are eaten, or their decoction drunk, for fever (Irvine, 1961).


Bark contains 16-18% tannin.


Evergreen tree to 6 m tall, 20 cm in diameter, with spreading crown. Bark gray or brown, becoming rough, furrowed, thick; inner bark light brown. Leaves alternate, lanceolate, or ellipticaL, 3-8 cm long, 1.5-3 cm broad, leathery and slightly fleshy, long-pointed at both ends, not entire, yellow-green on both surfaces, usually with several gland-dots near vein angles on lower surface. Petiole 3-10 mm long, slightly broad and winged with 2 gland-dots. Flower clusters mostly 3-8 cm long at end of twigs and in leaf axils, of several small heads, about 5 mm in diameter on slender stalks. Flowers many in each ball, 2 mm long, mostly bisexual. Bisexual flowers have hairy, grayish, 2-winged tubular base, cuplike green calyx with 5 lobes, 5-10 protruding stamens, and inferior ovary with slender style. Male flowers lack tubular base and pistil but have longer stamens. Multiple fruits rounded, 10-12 mm in diameter, purplish-brown. Drupes many, scalelike, dry, 3 mm long, 2-winged (Little, 1983).


Reported from the African and Middle and South American Centers of Diversity, button mangrove, or cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate diseases, insects light frosts, pests, salt, and waterlogging (NAS, 1980a; Little, 1983).(2n = 24)


Bermuda and Bahamas through West Indies to central Florida. From northern Mexico southward on Atlantic Coast to Brazil and on Pacific Coast to Ecuador including Galapagos and northwestern Peru. Western tropical Africa from Senegal to Zaire. Not widely introduced (Little, 1983).


Estimated to range from Tropical Dry to Rain through Subtropical Dry to Rain Forest Life Zones, button mangrove is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 8.7 to 21.5 dm (mean of 2 cases = 15.1), annual temperature of 25.8 to 26.0°C (mean of 2 cases = 25.9), and estimated pH of 6 to 8.5. It can surely tolerate much higher annual precipitation and annual temperature down to 17deg.C (without heavy frost). Usually in brackish or saline silts of depositing shores, marshes, and stream banks.


According to the NAS (1980a), planting is usually not needed because natural regeneration is so successful. In Avicennia and Rhizophora direct seeding results in ca 90% survival. The plants can be grown on dry land away from seashores. They can be propagated from cuttings as living fenceposts (Little, 1983).


No data available.

Yields and Economics

Good mangrove stand can show annual productivity of 10-20(-25) MT/ha/yr, but for firewood purposes, I would reduce that to 10-20 (-25) m3 /ha/yr, figuring that at optimal, rather than average. Because of the heaviness of the wood, a cubic meter of mangrove is generally more valuable than other species. Litterfall may account for 1/3-1/2 of aboveground productivity.


The wood "has high calorific value as fuel but is most widely used for high-grade charcoal (Morton, 1981). Little (1983) says it makes a good slow-burning fuel and charcoal.

Biotic Factors

Suceptible to attack by dry-wood termites (Little, 1983).


Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
last update July 8, 1996