Florida’s Mangrove Forests

Mangroves are a kind of tree or shrub that typically grow on or near shorelines in tropical and subtropical climates such as Florida’s Gulf Coast. These plants are specially adapted to the wet, salty conditions where they grow.1 Mangrove forests play an important role in coastal ecosystems and also protect coastlines from erosion.1,2

Three species of mangroves are found in Florida:

Appearance

Red Mangrove

  • Can reach between 20 and 40 feet tall
  • Yellow flowers
  • Large surface roots
  • Bark is brown3
  • Grow in standing water2

Black Mangrove

  • Can reach between 40 and 50 feet tall
  • White flowers
  • Roots put out branches that grow upward and help the plant “breath” during high tide
  • Bark is dark gray or brown, and leaves may appear white due to discharged salt
  • Grows between standing water and uplands2

White Mangrove

  • Can reach between 30 and 40 feet tall
  • White flowers
  • Large root system
  • Bark is light brown and may appear white due discharged salt
  • Grows in upland regions4

Importance

Mangrove forests provide habitat for many kinds of wildlife, some of which are threatened or endangered. These wildlife come to mangrove forests to find food and shelter, and to reproduce.1 Mangroves can also protect coastlines from erosion due to storms and tides.2


  1. Jorge R. Rey and C. Roxanne Connelly, Mangroves, ENY660, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2015, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in195
  2. Michael G. Andreu, Melissa H. Friedman, Mary M. Hudson, and Heather V. Quintana, Avicennia germinans, Black Mangrove, FOR259, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2013, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fr321
  3. Edward F. Gilman, Rhizophora mangle Red Mangrove, FPS502, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2014, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fp502
  4. Michael G. Andreu, Melissa H. Friedman, Mary McKenzie, and Heather V. Quintana, Laguncularia racemosa, White Mangrove, FOR263, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2013, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fr325

UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones