Flora index
Fauna index
guide to the mangroves of singapore
How plants cope in the mangroves
Peter K L Ng and N Sivasothi (editors)

Vivipary is the condition whereby the embryo (the young plant within the seed) grows first to break through the seed coat then out of the fruit wall while still attached to the parent plant. This condition is found in Bruguiera, Ceriops, Kandelia and Rhizophora species.

Cryptovivipary (Greek kryptos, hidden) refers to the condition whereby the embryo grows to break through the seed coat but not the fruit wall before it splits open. This condition is exhibited by Aegiceras, Avicennia and Nypa species.

There is intense speculation as to why so many mangrove species demonstrate vivipary or cryptovivipary with morphological, ecological and physiological explanations put forward.
different stages of vivipary
Vivipary in
Bruguiera cylindrica

different stages of cryptovivipary
Cryptovivipary in
Aegiceras corniculatum
Difficulties arise from the fact that the mangrove environment, although unique, is so only by a set of factors and not just one. Vivipary or cryptovivipary is not found in any halophytes (plants which grow in saline environments) or freshwater swamp forest species so indicating that these conditions do not arise from salinity or wet soil conditions.

One suggestion has been that the mangrove presents relatively unstable conditions so having propagules which can grow practically immediately is an advantage. For instance, it is easy to observe that the seedlings of Rhizophoraceae can often plant themselves directly below the parent tree because the centre of gravity is close to the root tip. However, this is of little advantage to the plant in the long run as the seedlings would be competing with the parent tree for light, nutrients, etc., to their mutual disadvantage. Most such seedlings do not plant themselves, but float away and can tolerate immersion for weeks. However, on landing on a suitable substrate, the seedlings can firmly root themselves within days and grow rapidly.

Other adaptations to cope in mangroves
Salt secretors and ultrafiltrators
Breathing roots
What is mangrove?

The Ecosystem


Indirect uses
Potential uses

About Mangroves
in Singapore

Mangroves to visit
From "A Guide to Mangroves of Singapore", Peter K. L. Ng and N. Sivasothi (editors)
Volume 1: The Ecosystem and Plant Diversity and Volume 2: Animal Diversity
Authors: Kelvin K. P. Lim, Dennis H. Murphy, T. Morgany, N. Sivasothi, Peter K. L. Ng,
B. C. Soong, Hugh T. W. Tan, K. S. Tan & T. K. Tan
BP Guide to Nature Series published by the Singapore Science Centre, sponsored by British Petroleum
2001 Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, The National University of Singapore & The Singapore Science Centre