Here on Florida's last frontier, we are near the northern extreme for mangroves. The wimpier mangroves like reds and whites fade out around Crystal River due to their intolerance for cold weather.
The black mangrove is more cold tolerant and as a result can exist and thrive here in North Florida. Severe cold snaps can knock our black mangrove population down, but they resprout, regrow, recover.
Live on the edge is always tougher.
Here's a healthy black mangrove on a tiny island near Cedar Key.
If you look closer ...
You can see that, unlike the other mangroves, black mangroves do not have the distinctive arching prop roots seen in their red and white cousins.
Instead, they have these vertical root extensions known as "pneumatophores". Pneumatophores absorb oxygen and provide a surface for nitrogen fixing bacteria.
These bacteria are the ones who are can change pure atmospheric nitrogen into chemical compounds that less skilled organisms ... like us ... need to survive.
I like to tell my students that they can only live here on this nitrogen filled planet due to the nitrogen fixing microorganisms in the soil.
They think I'm nuts.
In the picture above, a new generation of black mangroves begin their climb to the sun.
It's okay to OOOH and AAAAHHH, everybody likes baby pictures.