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Wetland Evaluation and Delineation Program

Wetland Communities - Mangrove Swamps

Red and Black MangrovesMangrove Swamps are wetlands dominated by red, black and/or white mangroves. The large, arching prop roots are characteristic of red mangrove, while the upright roots called, "pneumatophores" are characteristic of black and white mangroves. Mangroves are distributed in coastal landscape by their ecological tolerance, i.e. there is zonation associated with a mangrove swamp. Look carefully and you may notice that black mangrove is the most salt tolerant mangrove species, often growing where the soils are hypersaline. As in the scene from Big Pine Key, below.

Red and black mangroves lining a tidal creek. The high tide is covering the prop roots of the red mangrove.

Black MangroveRed mangrove is found on the waterward edge of the mangrove swamp. With its large prop roots and unique architecture red mangrove can withstand more wave energy. White and black mangrove seem to be the most cold tolerant, with black mangrove surviving the winters of north Florida. Mangroves and saltmarsh are intermingled in coastal areas of central Florida. Here it is primarily the severity of winter cold that inhibits the northward spread and dominance of woody mangroves. Mangroves and saltmarsh are one of the most important coastal wetland plant communities in Florida. These wetlands along with near shore seagrass beds are the habitat, food and nursery area for many of Florida’s important fisheries. People benefit from mangrove swamps in many ways.

Here, black mangrove grows with saltwort, glasswort, keys grass and sea-blight.

Red MangroveNaturalists, birdwatchers, etc. enjoy the birds and wildlife that frequent Florida’s mangrove swamps. Coastal properties are protected from erosion by the extensive root systems of mangroves. Mangrove plants should not be molested and they are protected in Florida. Some of Florida’s most imperiled species are dependent on healthy mangroves, such as American crocodile and manatee. See mangrove ID guide on our webpage, this is an illustrated guide to the mangroves of Florida and also includes associated species, both native and introduced. See illustrated plant ID cards for common plants.

Interior of a red mangrove forest, note the arching prop roots, fallen leaves and seedlings. Mangrove forests are important in maintaining healthy nutrient cycling in coastal regions of south Florida. Whenever possible they should be left undisturbed.

The following is a list of the major plants associated with mangrove swamps.


Botanical Latin Common Name Wetland Status
Avicennia germinans black mangrove OBL
Conocarpus erectus buttonwood FACW
Laguncularia racemosa white mangrove OBL
Rhizophora mangle red mangrove OBL



Botanical Latin Common Name Wetland Status
Batis maritima saltwort OBL
Borrichia spp. seaside tansy OBL
Lycium carolinianum Christmas berry OBL
Monanthochloe littoralis keygrass OBL
Salicornia sp. glasswort OBL
Spartina alterniflora saltmarsh cordgrass OBL
Suaeda sp. sea-blite OBL


See vegetative index as per rule 62-340, F.A.C.

See Field Guide to Florida Mangroves.

Last updated: July 01, 2015

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