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Red Mangrove

Rhizophora mangle


The red mangrove can be a tall tree that reaches 70' to 80' in height. In Florida it is characterized as a short bushy tree reaching about 20' in height. They are usually found growing in shallow brackish water. Red mangrove is most recognizable by its numerous above ground roots called prop roots. Prop roots supply air to the underlying roots and provide support and stability to the red mangrove. The evergreen elliptical-shaped leaves are oppositely arranged, 3" to 5" long and 1" to 2" wide. Most often they are dark green on top and paler below with a smooth leaf margin. Red mangrove flowers are a pale yellow and appear in the spring. The unusual fruit has one viviparous "seed" that germinates and sends down an initial root 6-12 inches long before it drops from the tree. These propagules can drift for months before the root lodges in the ground and the top begins to grow.


The red mangrove grows in brackish areas along creeks, bays, and lagoons in subtropical and tropical areas. They are well adapted to salt water because they can exclude salt from their roots.


Red mangrove habitats are often given special protection because they help stabilize shorelines from erosion. Their extensive prop roots trap soil and detritus extending land or creating new little islands. They provide important feeding, breeding and nursery areas for many fish, shellfish and birds. Mangroves can produce 3.6 tons per acre of leaf litter per year for the estuarine food chains. An estimated 75% of the game fish and 90% of the commercial species in south Florida depend on the mangrove ecosystem. The wood is used for fuel, piling, crossties, and charcoal. The red mangrove is also known for its large quantity of tannins found in the bark.

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Karen Hileman
Spotted by
Karen Hileman

Florida, USA

Spotted on Aug 12, 2012
Submitted on Aug 19, 2012

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