Conocarpus erectus

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Conocarpus erectus, photo taken with an iPhone 12 Pro Max by Dr Nicholas Hellmuth.

Conocarpus erectus is known as gray mangrove, white mangrove, button mangrove or simply buttonwood. It belongs to the Combretaceae family. Individuals reach heights up to 10 m and diameters up to 30 cm. They have the right trunk with the rounded and dense crown, composed of thin and ascending branches. It is evergreen, blooming and fruiting most of the year (
Red de Viveros de Biodiversidad, s.f.

The wood of this species is used as firewood, charcoal, poles, stakes and in various constructions, it is also used to produce quality honey. It is considered a good option for reforestation and restoration plans because it tolerates saline and sandy soils, drought and insolation, so it can be used to protect the coastline from erosion (Red de Viveros de Biodiversidad, s.f.).

Is distributed in Florida and las Antillas, and from México to Ecuador, Perú and Brasil (Sanchez, 2017).


Family Combretaceae
Genus Conocarpus
Species Conocarpus erectus
Synonyms Terminalia erecta (L.) Baill., Conocarpus procumbens L., Conocarpus sericeus J. R. Forst. Ex G. Don, Conocarpus acutifolius Humb. & Bonpl. Ex Roem. & Schult
Common name Gray mangrove, White mangrove, Button mangrove, Buttonwood

Mangrove tree Conocarpus erectus is seldom seen

Conocarpus erectus is found even less often than mangle negro. Mangle rojo, Rhizophora mangle, is the mangrove that grows by the millions along the coast of Amatique Bay. Today, yesterday, and the day before, we had red mangrove on both sides of us as we went up every river and creek: from Rio Sarstun far inland to the base of the hills overlooking Lagunita Creek.

Conocarpus erectus is missing from most reports of trees or plants of wetlands of Guatemala

This Conocarpus erectus mangrove tree is not often visible because of the millions of red mangrove everywhere. Lots of monographs on plants of wetlands of Guatemala mention Conocarpus erectus for the Pacific Coast but miss it for the Lagunita Creek area.

In the prestigious Neotropical Plant Portal, Conocarpus erectus is nowhere listed for Izabal.
So it seems that FLAAR Mesoamerica has found locations for Conocarpus erectus not easily listed for botanists around the world.

Conocarpus erectus is listed for all over Mexico

I put in bold font the states of Mexico that are the Maya Lowlands in that country:

Conocarpus erectus L. BCN, BCS, CAM, CHIS, COL, GRO, JAL, MICH, NAY, OAX, PUE, QROO, SIN, SON, TAB, TAMS, VER, YUC (Villasenor 2016: 699).

An early version of Balick, Nee and Atha spell the tree species differently: Conocarpus erecta L. …— Loc Use: MED, FUEL, PRD, CNST. — Reg Use: PRD, FUEL, CNST, TAN, MED. — Nv: botoncillo, button-bush, buttonwood, button wood, kanche, white mangrove…. Where we are in the Municipio de Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala they call this tree botoncillo or mangle gris (so gray mangrove, not white mangrove). It is typical for each country to have slightly different names.

www.ThePlantList says.. Conocarpus erectus L. is an accepted name.

Conocarpus erecta is not even considered by Kew or Missouri Botanical Garden ( It’s not even a synonym. Conocarpus erecta is not even accepted by Google search engine; it rejects the name and tells you to search for Conocarpus erecta. I estimate the name has been changed in the published edition on vascular plants of Belize (I am writing this web page in a remote part of Izabal, Guatemala, a few kilometers from where we found the Conocarpus erectus this afternoon. I do not have any physical books with me; only PDFs which are often pre-publication editions.

Most Mangle Trees (and other trees of family COMBRETACEAE produce Tannin

Bucida buceras L., pucte

Conocarpus erecta L., white mangrove (Belize), mangle gris (Rio Sarstun area of Izabal adjacent to Belize)

Laguncularia racemosa (L.) C.F. Gaertn., white mangrove

Terminalia catappa L.

Avicennia germinans is a mangrove; produces tannin, but is plant family Acanthaceae.

Rhizophora mangle is the most common mangrove along Amatique Bay and inland on all rivers with brackish water (that flow into El Golfete part of Rio Dulce). Plant family: Rhizophoraceae.This red mangrove produces a dye colorant (the stems exude a red color when cut). But no tannin is listed for them by Balick, Nee and Atha (2000) but tannins are listed elsewhere for Rhizophora mangle if you Google Rhizophora mangle tannin.

Lots more trees produce tannin for curing hides such as deer, jaguar, and other animal hides used by the Maya for thousands of years.

How to get to Municipio de Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala

Drive CA9 to the turnoff to Peten (CA13 and in less than an hour you are in the town of Rio Dulce. You can take a shuttle or rent a private boat to the town of Livingston with lanchero (if you want to stop to take photos of all the diverse waterbirds and tropical flowers along the route it’s best not to be in a hasty water-taxi (shuttle) but to have your own boat so you can ask the lanchero to stop the boat every time you want to enjoy looking at a particular species of waterbird or tropical flower.

Or drive to Puerto Barrios, park you car near the municipal muelle, and take a water taxi to Livingston and then a shuttle/water taxi to Rio Dulce the next day (after you spend the night in the pleasant Garifuna town of Livingston).


References Cited and Suggested Reading on Conocarpus erectus

  • 2012
  • Phytochemical Studies and Evaluation of Antioxidant, Anticancer and Antimicrobial Properties of Conocarpus erectus L. Growing in Taif, Saudi Arabia. European Journal of Medicinal Plants, 2(2), 93-112.

    Available Online:
  • 2000
  • Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Belize.
  • 2008
  • Structure and production of Conocarpus erectus L. at the Ramsar Site "Manglares y Humedales de Tuxpan", Veracruz, Mexico. Revista Científica UDO Agrícola, Vol. 8, Nº. 1, págs. 78-87.

    Available Online:
  • DAVIDSE, G., SOUSA Sánchez, M., KNAPP, S. D. and F. CHIANG Cabrera
  • 2009
  • Cucurbitaceae a Polemoniaceae. Fl. Mesoamer. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México México, pp. 1–855.
  • LEÓN, J. L. and R. DOMÍNGUEZ
  • 2007
  • Notes on Conocarpus erectus (Combretaceae) in the Baja California Peninsula, Mexico. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 487-490

    Available Online:
  • REHMAN, S., AZAM, F., UR, S., UR, T., MEHMOOD, A., GOHAR, A. and A. SAMAD
  • 2019
  • A Review on Botanical, Phytochemical and Pharmacological Reports of Conocarpus Erectus. Pakistan Journal of Agricultural Research, Vol. 32, Isue 1, pages 212-217.

    Available Online:
  • STANDLEY, Paul C. and L. O. WILLIAMS
  • 1962
  • Flora of Guatemala. Fieldiana: Botany 24 (7, no. 2): 187–281.
  • TOJ, K. M.
  • 2016
  • Comprobación de la actividad antioxidante y evaluación de la actividad antiureasa de mangle botoncillo (Conocarpus erectus L.). Infrome de Teisis. Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. Facultad de Ciencias Químicas y Farmacia.

    Available Online:

Suggested webpages with photos and information on Conocarpus erectus
General information and photos
General information, photos and distribution map
Complete information and photos


First posted October 2021.
Written by Vivian Hurtado, FLAAR Mesoamerica

PNYNN and Livingston reports

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