Barringtonia asiatica (Barringtonia)

  • TropPlant Accession Number (TPAN): 0101
  • Botanical Name: Barringtonia asiatica 
  • Common Name: Barringtonia, Fish Poison Tree, Putat, Botong (Pilipino name), Shaving Brush Tree
  • Cultivar: N/A
  • Family: Lecythidaceae
Barringtonia asiatica
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Native To: South Pacific, Taiwan, and Zanzibar 

Landscaping Information

    • Plant Type: Tree
    • Texture: Dense
    • Form: Upright-broad 
    • Height (on average, in landscape use): 25'-45'
    • Height to Spread Ratio: 1:2
    • Growth Rate:  Medium
    • Landscape Values: Street Tree, Shade, Specimen, Windbreak, Erosion Control
    • Outstanding Quality: Flowers, Foliage Characters, Fruit
    Barringtonia asiatica at UH Manoa
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Botanical Descriptions

    • Flowers: 5"-7" wide, white to cream petals. White to light pink stamens are abundant. The two-lobed calyx and pistil remain attached to the tree, while petals and stamens fall below. Flowers open at night. Stamens appear like a shaving brush; hence the common name.
    Barringtonia asiatica petals and stamens that have fallen from the tree
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Barringtonia asiatica petals and stamens that have fallen from the tree. Falls apart in the hand.
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    • Fruits: Box-Shaped (four-sided), buoyant, spongy, fibrous husk surrounds the seed. The seed is used to stupefy fish by mashing it and spreading the mashed bits into the water.

    Barringtonia asiatica fruit
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Barringtonia asiatica fruit
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Barringtonia asiatica opened and rotted fruit
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    • Foliage Color: Young/immature: Reddish and Light Green. Mature: Bright Medium Green
    • Foliage Tip: Rounded
    • Foliage Base: Cuneate
    • Petiole: Small (0.25" or less). Leaf blade extend into petiole
    • Stipules: Triangular
    • Margins: Smooth
    • Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
    • Leaf Shape: Obovate
    • Leaf Type: Simple
    • Leaf Texture: Glossy, firm, somewhat thick and leathery
    • Leaf Special Notes: 8"-16" long, bright green leaves accented with a pink midrib and primary veins. Leaves fall and create a good deal of rubbish.
    Barringtonia asiatica leaves
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Barringtonia asiatica leaves
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    • Bark and Trunk: Reddish-Brown to Brownish-Gray bark. Relatively thin bark layer with a swollen trunk. 
    Barringtonia asiatica bark
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Horticultural Information

      • Light Preference: Full Sun
      • Light Tolerances:  Semi-Sun
      • Soil Preferences: Organic, Moist, but Well-Drained
      • Tolerances: Poor Drainage, Submerged Roots, Salt Air, Saline Soil, Moderate Winds, Humidity, Regular Watering
      • Water Requirements: Grows best when watered frequently. Naturally grows in riparian, coastal, and swampy regions. Requires more water than most trees, but tolerates slight drought once established.
      • Notes on Maintenance: Large thick leaves, box-shaped fruits, petals, and stamens create rubbish under the crown. These can become troublesome especially near walkways and roadways. Naturally a coastal or riparian species, but would not be advised for public beach landscaping due to the high quantities of rubbish. This plant has been grown as an indoor plant. Similarly to Ficus lyrata , bright light is required for this slow growing indoor tree.
      Barringtonia asiatica rubbish. A messy tree, indeed.
      Photo by Matthew Gaston

      • Propagation: Seeds, Cutting
      • Minimum USDA Hardiness Zone: 10a
      • Weed Risk Assessment Score (WRA): -8, Low Risk

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