First in line:
The Red Mangrove
All plants and animals have a scientific name but we call them by their common name. The Red mangrove’s scientific name is Rhizophora mangle. In a mangrove forest it’s the tree that grows in the water.
How can a tree grow in salt water? All mangrove trees are designed to live in wet, salty areas where other plants would not survive. That is because each type of mangrove tree was made in special way to help it survive.
Red mangroves are also called ‘walking trees’. That’s because they have special roots called prop roots that grow from their branches down into the water. These prop roots make the tree look like they are walking. For the Red mangrove, the prop roots are important for two reasons: first, they help to keep the tree from falling over. They prop up the tree. Growing in water means you need extra support to stand in the mud. Secondly, because these prop roots grow from the branches down into the water, they are exposed to air. Being exposed to air brings extra oxygen to the Red mangrove.
There are other ways you can tell the difference between a Red mangrove and other types of mangrove trees. The leaves of the Red mangrove are large and egg-shaped. The top of the leaf is dark green while the bottom is light green. The leaves feel waxy like a candle. Just as you lose water from your body through sweating, so do plants and trees. The wax on the leaves keeps the tree from losing all its water.
The Red mangrove produces a special fruit called a propagule that looks like a pencil. The propagule is really a baby mangrove or a mangrove sapling! Once the fruit falls from the tree, it can sprout roots right away or be carried away by the tide. These propagules with the mangrove sapling can float around for up to a year before they root.
At the Little Bay Pond you can find Red mangroves as well as at Mullet Pond, some areas around the Fresh Pond and the Simpsonbay Lagoon. Red mangroves are important because their roots help to filter chemicals from the water and trap garbage from going out to sea. The roots help to create land by holding the soil that runs into the ponds when it rains. By doing all this Red mangrove also helps to protect the coral reefs.
The roots are a nesting place for fish and they help to keep young fish safe until they are big enough to leave the safety of the mangrove pond and go out to the reefs. Many different kinds of marine animals live on or around the roots of the Red mangrove. Together with the other mangrove trees, the Red mangrove also helps to protect the land from high ocean waves during a hurricane.
CONTINUE: Black Mangroves »