Along Florida’s south coast and halfway up the Peninsula, dense forests of mangroves are common features on tidal shorelines sheltered from wave action. They are very hardy plants and usually recover after being damaged by storms or freezes.
The two most prominent mangroves are easily identified by their roots. Red mangroves develop prop roots that grow down from larger branches. Black mangroves have hundreds of roots resembling pencils that grow up above the soil.
Tall white mangroves and buttonwoods usually grow upland of the red and black mangroves. Ospreys, woodpeckers, herons, egrets, pelicans, vireos, flycatchers and other birds nest in mangroves.
In recent years mangrove swamps have been given legal protection because they reduce storm damage and are nursery grounds for young fish, crabs, and shrimp. Where mangrove swamps were destroyed, fish and shellfish have seriously declined. Such examples show that we need to know the services natural areas provide before we allow them to be developed.