Nypa fruticans

Nypa fruticans Wrumb.

Status: Native, and Vulnerable. Cultivated.

Recent Synonyms: None relevant.

Growth Form or Habit: Shrubby. Lacking a trunk; densely packed; up to 10m tall.

IMG_5078 copy
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve; Mangrove; 2009.

Leaves: Leaflets erect, alternating and lanceolate. Each leaf have about 30-40 leaflets.

Chek Jawa; Mangrove; 2009.

Stem: Thick, horizontal underground stems with distinct fissures that branch dichotomously. A new plant grows vegetatively from each branch, capable of creating extensive pure stands.

Admiralty Park; Mangrove; 2009.

Admiralty Park; Mangrove; 2009.

Flowers: Male flowers catkin. Female flowers globular.

Pollination by insects and wind. Drosophilid flies possibly play a more dominant role.

Berlayar Creek; Mangrove; 2010.

Fruits: Infrutescence chestnut brown, large and spherical. The heavy weight caused the infrutescence stalk to droop. The fruits are viviparous and subsequent growth of the pulmule causes abscission.

Chek Jawa; Mangrove; 2007.

The fibrous fruit is buoyant and dispersed by water.

Habitat: Brackish mangrove forest strips situated further inland where there are calm conditions and high freshwater input. Able to survive in exclusively freshwater conditions.


Singapore Island – Lim Chu Kang mangroves, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Kranji Reservoir, Sungei Mandai, Woodlands Town Garden, Admiralty Park, Sungei Simpang, Khabit Bongsu, near Seletar Wet-Gap, Punggol Reservoir, Pasir Ris mangroves, Sungei Changi, near Pasir Laba Camp, Poyan Reservoir, Pergam Channel, Sungei Pandan, Berlayar Creek and Coney Island.

Off Shore islands – Pulau Seletar, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin, Pulau Buaya, St. John’s Island and Pulau Semakau.

Distribution: Tropical Indo-West Pacific region – From Sri Lanka through Asia to Northern Australia and the Western Pacific islands. Naturalised in West Africa, Panama and Trinidad.

Other information:

The only palm species considered as a true major element in the mangrove flora. One of the oldest flower plant species and possibly the oldest palm species dated back to the Upper Cretaceous period, 65-70 millions ago.


Teo, S., Ang, W.F., Lok, A. F. S. L., Kurukulasuriya, B.R. and Tan, H. T. W. (2010) The status and distribution of the nipah palm, Nypa fruticans Wurmb (Arecaceae), in Singapore. Nature in Singapore, 3: 45–52.

More pictures can be found at

(1) Urban Forest website

(2) The Plant Observatory website


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