Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
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This shrub or small tree of tidal habitats can be found along the Florida peninsula coast from Levy and Volusia Counties southward, plus Wakulla County in the panhandle. Also found in the Carolinas, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The range extends along parts of both coasts of Central and South America, throughout the Caribean and Bermuda, the Cape Verde Islands, the west coast of Africa and locations in the Pacific.
Rhizophora mangle is the only species of the red mangrove family in Florida. It is one of the four species in three separate families that are considered mangroves, a grouping made due to their shared habitat and each species' unique adaptations for tolerating the salt-water environment. The other members of this group are the black mangrove, white mangrove and buttonwood, or button mangrove.
Red mangrove can most easily be distinguished from the others by the reddish arching above-ground prop roots and the long propagules - seeds that germinate while still on the plant. The long, narrow appendages develop from the fruit before falling off and floating away to quickly take root once they come to rest, typically in a muddy location.
The opposite, entire elliptic leaves are 4-15cm long, 2-5 cm wide, leathery and dark shiny green on the upper surface. The flowers have four yellowish to white narrow petals in clusters of two or three growing from the leaf axils. They may bloom at any time of the year.