Mangroves are small to large trees that grow in or near shallow salt water along tropical and subtropical coasts. Their root systems slow water movements and cause deposits of sand, silt, and debris to extend the shoreline seaward. Mangrove trees are especially important to Florida. The growth of mangroves along a coastline prevents erosion and breaks the waves of storms. The roots provide protection for fish and other sea creatures. Leaves falling from the trees provide food for smaller organisms.
There are three kinds of mangroves common in Florida. It’s interesting to note they belong to different plant families that are not related. They tend to grow in different positions relative to the water line. Red mangroves grow in shallow water. Black mangroves are less tolerant of salt and usually grow along the edge of the water. White mangroves are even less tolerant of salt and are generally found above the tide line. However, the three species are often seen growing together.