Conocarpus is a genus of two species of flowering plants in the family Combretaceae, native to tropical regions of the world.
It is an evergreen shrub or tree with a spreading crown; it can grow 4 - 20 m tall. The bole can be 20cm in diameter. There are two forms of the tree, one with green leaves and one with silvery leaves.
The wood is harvested from the wild for fuel and tannins. The tree is also widely grown as an ornamental, for land reclamation and as a hedge.
Amenable to trimming, and easily propagated by cuttings of large wood, the plant can be grown as a hedge or screen.
Used in land reclamation schemes, especially on sandy and saline soils. It has become a particularly popular species in the United Arab Emirates, where it is being used to desalinate the desert and help to green it.
The plant is used as folk remedy in anemia, catarrh, conjunctivitis, gonorrhea, diabetes, diarrhea, fever, headache, bleeding, tumors, orchitis, pricklyheat, swellings, and syphilis. The leaves are eaten, or their decoction drunk, for fever (Irvine, 1961). Wood is used for fenceposts, crossties, turnery, boat building, firewood and landscaping purposes. The leaves and bark are a source of tannins that can also be used for dyeing purposes.
The heartwood is yellow-brown to dark brown; the thin band of sapwood light brown to nearly white. The texture is fine; the grain very fine. The wood is very heavy; hard; very strong; tough; very durable, even in contact with the soil. It takes a good polish. It is susceptible to dry-wood termites. The wood is used for fence posts, crossties, turnery and boat building. The wood keeps almost indefinitely, and is highly prized as timber, being used for carpentry work, poles, rafters, boat curves and cabinet work.
The wood of this plant makes a very good fuel, burning slowly. It also makes an excellent charcoal.
The tree will anchor the banks and prevent erosion. The large leaf area will lose large amounts of water to evaporation. If the water is contaminated, it will be filtered through the root system. If the water it is planted next to is a scarce resource it will cause water shortage.
This tree spreads and so it will force out indigenous species and cause lack of biodiversity. Bird and insect populations will be affected. If no birds exist they can be introduced as this tree has good nesting and food propagation capability. The answer needs careful evaluation by an ecologist for a specific location as there are no generalities when sensitive environments are planted with an alien plant.