Mar 9, 2008

More about the coastal tree with blue fruits

Thanks to Joseph Lai for identifying this coastal tree as Elaeocarpus pedunculatus.

My first time encounter was while exploring a new shore with new friends.
According to Corners, it is called the Blunt-leafed Oil-Fruit Tree which belongs to the family of Oil-Fruit Trees (Family Elaeocarpus). The trees in this family are also known as Pigeon Plums as the fruits are eaten by birds and seeds thus dropped in open places 'where they sprout vigorously'.The flowers are reported to be fragrant, and the trees said to flower generally twice a year (so we were very lucky to see it in full bloom!). The blue colour of the fruit is not a pigment, but due to the structure of the skin which reflects blue light. The tree is typically found in rocky cliffs by the sea.

According to Burkill, the Malays commonly called members of this family 'Medang' often adding to the specific name; 'musang' (civet cat) or 'kelawar' (flying fox). The fruits of some of members of this family can be eaten by people.

In Hsuan Keng's The Concise Flora of Singapore (1990), it is reported to be found near seashores at Loyang, Tuas, Jurong, Pulau Tekong and Pulau Bayan. These areas on the mainland have experienced a great deal of development. So the tree we saw might be among the rare survivors on a natural shore.

The tree is listed as a rare plant in the Singapore Red Data Book (Ng & Wee, 1994).

From Siva's Changi Heritage page, there is also a tree on Changi near the boardwalk, on the side of the hill below Fairy Point Chalet 3.

Joseph Lai also recorded it on Sentosa's natural shore, on his website, and a tree on Mount Serapong, Sentosa is registered as a Heritage Tree in the Singapore Heritage Tree Register (pdf file)

Joseph Lai also recorded it on Lazarus Island on his website.

The Gardentech website recommends this native tree for planting in miniature gardens. At NUS, a replanting exercise in 2005 included this native tree.


Burkill, I. H., 1993. A Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula. 3rd printing. Publication Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. Volume 1: 1-1240; volume 2: 1241-2444.

Corners, E. J. H., 1997. Wayside Trees of Malaya: in two volumes. Fourth edition, Malayan Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. Volume 1: 1-476 pp, plates 1-38; volume 2: 477-861 pp., plates 139-236.

Hsuan Keng, S.C. Chin and H. T. W. Tan. 1990, The Concise Flora of Singapore: Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Singapore University Press. 222 pp.

Ng, P. K. L. & Y. C. Wee, 1994. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened Plants and Animals of Singapore. The Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore. 343 pp.

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