Thursday, March 12, 2009

Black Mangroves

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.


SophieMae said...


That's one of the things I miss most up here. On the bright side, of course, we don't have Brazilian pepper.

Dani said...

Aahh...such a cute little baby Black Mangrove! ;)

robin andrea said...

Now that's one cute baby.

Anonymous said...

Oooooh! Sweet little muddy mangrove babes! I luv 'em. They also provide safe haven for infant fishes and other young critters.

Susan Rose said...

At mangrove feet live tiny wet creatures, and in their boughs are nests of birds. Yay for mangroves!

Anonymous said...

Oooh, sound like such a proud papa!


Floridacracker said...

BPepper is a scourge! Not thick up here and the Cedar Key community has done some eradication to keep it at bay.

Spittin image of his old man.

Future fish forest.

They are great for that!

And around here the nesting is set to begin in them soon.

Well, they are MANgroves afterall.

Robert V. Sobczak said...

I always say that students know their teachers best of all! I was just talking to a colleague who worked previously up in St Augustine about the mangrove line. I didn't know that Black Mangroves were the farthest reaching. Those pneumatophores look a lot like cypress knees.

Doug Taron said...

There are two cool butterflies associated with mangroves. The Mangrove Skipper has been reported as far north as Citrus County. The Mangrove Buckeye has been reported as far north as Pasco County. If my geography is right, both of these are fairly close to PFHQ. Keep you eyes peeled and you could get a new county record.

Bill said...

FC my friend you are a fountain of information. That's a little leftover from the sand boils. Thanks and keep up the photoingeniousness.
I love making up words.


caroline said...

Looks like pneumatophores could be the Science Word of the Week for my Science Guy and the kiddos...we ain't got mangroves in South Dakota!

tsiya said...

Recently, in a conversation, one of the Snowbird transplants told me that there are no Mangroves around St. Augustine. I figure he must spend most of his time indoors, LOL
St. Augustine is about the Northern limit, however.