Why Are Mangroves Important In The Florida Keys

All along the Florida Keys, you will see bushes between the ocean and the shore, and covering all the islands that surround us. These “bushes” are called mangroves. There are three types of mangroves in the Florida Keys: Red, White, and Black.

These mangroves are important. Not only to the ocean and sea creatures, but to us humans as well.
These Mangroves not only are a habitat/safe haven for small sea life and crustaceans, but their roots lock in sand and help form land to create islands. They don’t only protect the small sea life though. Many other animals call the mangroves their home like birds and alligators. Mangroves are important to us because like all other trees, they produce oxygen. They also act as a buffer during intense storms reducing wave action, preventing erosion, and absorbing floodwaters.

Types of mangroves in Florida

How can I tell the difference between the mangroves?
Here are some rhymes that will help you spot and identify them:

“Red, red, pointy head.” If you take a close look at the leaves on red mangroves, you will notice that the tip of the leaf points, instead of rounding. Also, you can find small, yellow flowers blossoming on the red mangroves.

Mangroves in Florida

“Black, black, salty back.” I don’t recommended licking all the leaves you see to find a black mangrove. But if you flip the leaf over you will find salt crystals covering the back of them. Another way to identify them is if you look down at the roots, you will notice that they stick up like straws coming out of the water and sand. Black mangroves mostly are found inland because if their roots are submerged for too long, the plant cannot get oxygen and the tree dies.

Black mangrove with salt

“White, white, bolts on tight.” At the base of each leaf you will find two bumps called “nectaries”. An easy way to remember that the white mangroves have these bumps is to compare them to Frankenstein. Just like the white mangroves, Frankenstein has to bumps/bolts on his neck, or the “base of his head”. Another way to distinguish the white mangrove from the others is they produce a very small fruit with a sapling inside. It looks similar to a prune.

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