Are mangroves in Florida?
by Nick Hammond on Apr 10, 2022
Mangroves are a ubiquitous sight along the coasts of Florida. With their dense tangles of stilt-like roots and rich green canopy, these salt-tolerant trees have become an iconic part of the Florida landscape. But what exactly are mangroves, and why are they so important to Florida's coastal ecosystems?
What are mangroves and how are they adapted to thrive in Florida?
Mangroves are a specialized group of trees and shrubs that have evolved to live where most plants cannot - in the harsh intertidal zone between land and sea. There are over 50 species of mangroves globally, but Florida is home to three main types: red, black, and white mangroves. Each has its own adaptations that allow it to flourish.
Red mangroves have stilt-like roots that keep them stabilized in soft sediments and help them breathe even when partially submerged by tides. Black mangroves excrete excess salt through their leaves and have aerial roots that absorb oxygen. White mangroves have two different types of glands that filter out salt. Thanks to these adaptations, mangroves thrive in the brackish mix of fresh and saltwater that dominates Florida's estuaries and coastal wetlands.
Mangroves extent along Florida coasts and keys
While mangroves grow around the world in tropical coastal areas, they reach their fullest extent in Florida. Mangrove forests stretch along much of the state's peninsula and down into the Florida Keys. Extensive mangrove ecosystems are found all along the southeast coast from Palm Beach down through the Everglades and Florida Bay. They also flourish in the Gulf Coast region from Tampa Bay down to the Ten Thousand Islands.
Some of the most spectacular mangrove forests in Florida are found in protected areas like Everglades National Park and Indian River Lagoon. But mangroves also grow in areas impacted by development, sometimes as narrow fringing forests along waterways. Their presence helps maintain water quality and stabilize shorelines even in heavily populated regions.
Ecological benefits of mangroves in Florida
Mangroves play an outsized ecological role in Florida’s coastal zones. Their dense root systems provide shelter and nursery habitat for everything from fish and crabs to wading birds. Nutrients from decomposing mangrove leaves help sustain coastal food webs. Many threatened and endangered species like the Florida manatee depend on healthy mangrove ecosystems.
Mangroves also benefit humans. By stabilizing sediments, their massive root networks help prevent erosion and property loss along fragile shorelines. They improve water quality by filtering pollutants and excess nutrients from runoff. And by storing massive amounts of carbon in their soils and biomass, mangroves are increasingly recognized for their role in mitigating climate change.
Clearly mangroves are a vital part of what makes Florida’s coasts so unique and biodiverse. Protecting and restoring these important ecosystems will be key to ensuring a thriving coastal environment in Florida for generations to come.
When you purchase from MANG you join a movement of people who are banded together to protect, preserve and restore our ecosystems. The future depends upon stewards like you stepping up to the cause to protect our Earth today.