Mangroves are tropical trees that grow along the coastline in mixed salt and freshwater, or estuarine environments. They live in wet soil, are highly salt tolerant and flourish in areas periodically submerged by tides. Florida is home to three species of mangroves red, black, and white. Manatee Park is home to red and white mangroves. Coastline development, exotic plant invasion and poor water quality threaten Florida's mangrove populations. As a result, mangroves are protected by state law.
· Arching aerial roots called "prop roots" and "drop roots"
· Leaves are elliptical and glossy with dull underside
· Pencil-shaped propagule
· Leaves are rounded with notched tips
· Raisin-shaped propagule
· First to colonize a site disturbed by storms or hurricane
· Pencil-shaped aerial roots (Pneumatophores)
· Tear-shaped propagules
· Shiny upper leaf, gray under leaf
Role of Mangroves
Mangroves contribute to the health of Florida's southern coast by providing habitat for birds, mammals, reptiles, invertebrates and fish such as snook and tarpon. Their decomposing leaves are a major source of food for estuarine animals. Mangroves also protect coastlines from sever weather, reduce suspended sediment in nearby sea grass habitats, trap pollutants and recycle nutrients to help improve water quality.
Mangroves do no have true seeds. Young mangroves, called propagules, develop while sill attached to the trees. Propagules eventually fall from the tree and are dispersed with the help of tides. Propagules can remain viable and ready to sprout as the float out in the water for up to one year.