Posts Tagged ‘red mangrove’

Mangroves are tropical plants that are adapted to loose, wet soils, salt water, and being periodically submerged by tides.  Four major factors appear to limit the distribution of mangroves: climate, salt water, tidal fluctuation and soil type.

There are more than 50 species of mangroves found throughout the world. Three species of mangroves are native to Florida: Red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), Black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) and White mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa).  The buttonwood, (Conocarpus erectus) is often considered a fourth mangrove species, however, it is classified as a mangrove associate because it lacks any morphological specialization common in true mangrove species, and because it generally inhabits the upland fringe of many mangrove communities.

Red mangroves dominant the shoreline from the upper subtidal to the lower intertidal zones and are distinguished from other mangroves by networks of prop roots that originate in the trunk of the tree and grow downward towards the substratum.  Red mangroves may attain heights of 82 feet and have leaves that are glossy, bright green on the upper surface with somewhat more pale undersides.

Black mangroves typically are found growing immediately inland of red mangroves and may reach 65 feet in height.  They are characterized by their conspicuous pneumatophores, vertical branches that may extend upward in excess of 8 inches from cable roots lying below the soil.  Pneumatophores develop into extensive networks of fingerlike projections that surround the bases of black mangroves to provide them with proper aeration.  The leaves of black mangroves tend to be somewhat narrower than those of red mangroves and are often found encrusted with salt.

White mangroves are more prominent in high marsh areas, typically growing upland of both red and black mangroves.  White mangroves are significantly shorter than red or black mangroves, generally reaching about 50 feet in height.  Their leaves are oval in shape, and somewhat flattened.  Trees produce small propagules which measure only 3/10 of an inch.

Mangroves occur in dense, brackish swamps along coastal and tidally influenced, low energy shorelines.  In Florida, mangrove forests extend from the Florida Keys to St. Augustine on the Atlantic coast, and Cedar Key on the Gulf coast.  Factors such as climate, salt tolerance, water level fluctuation, nutrient runoff, and wave energy influence the composition, distribution, and extent of mangrove communities.  Temperature also plays a major role in mangrove distribution.  Typically, mangroves occur in areas where mean annual temperatures do not drop below 66°F.  Mangroves are damaged under conditions where temperatures fluctuate more than 10°F within short periods of time, or when they are subject to freezing conditions for even a few hours.


  • Mangroves trap and cycle various organic materials, chemical elements, and important nutrients in the coastal ecosystem.
  • Mangroves provide one of the basic food chain resources for marine organisms.
  • Mangroves provide physical habitat and nursery grounds for a wide variety of marine organisms, many of which have important recreational or commercial value.
  • Mangroves serve as roosting and nesting sites for many of our birds.
  • Mangroves serve as storm buffers by reducing wind and wave action in shallow shoreline areas.
  • Mangroves assist in protecting water quality and clarity by filtering runoff and trapping sediments and debris from adjacent uplands.

Through a combination of the above functions, mangroves contribute significantly to the economy of many coastal counties of Florida and the State of Florida.

Now you know a little about mangroves.  In my next blog I will review regulations regarding trimming of the mangroves and what you can and can’t do if they are on your property and blocking your view.


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