Rhizophora mangle L.
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 are about 2cm (~3/4 in.) in diameter with four pale yellow narrowly triangular to lanceolate sepals and four creamy-white narrowly lanceolate to linear recurving wooly petals that turn brown with age before dropping. Flowers appear in clusters of two to four growing from the leaf axils. They may bloom at any time of the year.
Rhizophoraceae - the red mangrove family - was previously placed in the orders Rhizophorales or Myrtales. DNA based molecular systematics now places this family in the Malpighiales order.
Rhizophora mangle is a member of the Rhizophoraceae - Red Mangrove family.
Date record last modified: Nov 10, 2023