Barringtonia asiatica (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Barringtonia asiatica (L.) Kurz

Protologue: Prelim. rep. forest Pegu: App. A, 65, App. B, 52, in clavi (1875).
  • Barringtonia speciosa J.R. Forster & J.G. Forster (1776).

Vernacular names

  • Sea putat (En)
  • Indonesia: butun (Javanese, Sundanese), bitung (northern Sulawesi), keben-keben (Balinese)
  • Malaysia: putat laut (general), butong, putat ayer (Peninsular)
  • Papua New Guinea: maliou (Plitty, Manus Province)
  • Philippines: botong (Tagalog, Bikol), boton (Tagalog), bitung (Bisaya)
  • Burma (Myanmar): kyi-git
  • Thailand: chik ta lae, don ta lae (peninsular)
  • Vietnam: bàng quả vuông


From Madagascar to Sri Lanka, India, Burma (Myanmar), Indo-China, the Andaman Islands, Thailand, throughout the Malesian region towards northern Australia and into the Pacific, east to Samoa and the Society Islands (Tahiti); also planted within this region and introduced into continental East Africa, Hawaii, the West Indies and St. Helena.


In the Philippines, the leaves are heated and externally applied for stomach-ache. Fresh leaves are topically applied against rheumatism, and the seeds are employed as a vermifuge. In Indonesia, the Philippines and Indo-China, the fruit or seed is used as a fish poison. In the Bismarck Archipelago, the fresh nut is scraped and applied directly to a sore. The dried nut is ground, mixed with water and drunk to treat coughs, influenza, sore throat and bronchitis. Externally it is applied to wounds and a swollen spleen after an attack of malaria. In Fiji, a decoction of the leaves is used to treat hernia and a decoction of the bark to treat constipation and epilepsy. In Australia, the aborigines use the plant as a fish poison and sometimes to alleviate headache. In Indo-China the young fruits are consumed as a vegetable after prolonged cooking. It is often planted as a shade tree along boulevards and avenues along the sea.


  • A tree, 7-20(-30) m tall, trunk 25-100 cm in diameter, twigs 6-10 mm in diameter, with large leaf scars.
  • Leaves obovate or obovate-oblong, (15-)20-38(-52) cm × (7-)10-18(-21) cm, base cuneate, apex emarginate to mucronate, entire, marginal vein distinct, glabrous, petiole very short.
  • Raceme terminal, rarely axillary, erect, 2-15(-20) cm long, (3-)7(-20)-flowered, pedicel 4-8 cm long, opening buds 2-4 cm long, calyx tube about 3 mm long, not accrescent, rupturing in 2 unequal segments, green, petals 4, elliptical, convex, 5-9 cm × 2-5 cm, white, stamens in 6 whorls, (8-)12(-15) cm long, white at base, reddish at apex, ovary 4(-5)-celled, style 9-14 cm long, white at base, reddish at apex, accrescent to 15 cm.
  • Berry ovate, 8.5-11 cm × 8.5-10 cm, tapering to apex, sharply tetragonous to the emarginate base, exocarp thin with glandular dots and a shining cuticle, mesocarp 2-2.5 cm thick, spongy, endocarp a thick layer of longitudinal anastomosing fibres between 2 thin membranes.
  • Seed oblong, 4-5 cm × 2.5-4 cm, subtetragonous, tapering to the emarginate apex.

B. asiatica is an almost exclusively littoral species, in some localities trees may grow further inland on calcareous hills or cliffs, generally growing on sandy beaches or coral-sand flats, along rivers or in mangrove swamp at sea-level, occasionally up to 350 m altitude.

Selected sources

  • Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Revised reprint. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vol. 1 (A-H) pp. 1-1240, Vol. 2 (I-Z) pp. 1241-2444.

143, 164,

  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1988. The wealth of India: a dictionary of Indian raw materials & industrial products. Revised Edition. Vol. 2B. Publications and Information Directorate, New Delhi, India. xlii + 350 + 90 pp.

368, 380, 407, 786, 810, 1008. medicinals


  • M.A. Yaplito