The Importance of Mangroves in the Everglades Ecosystem


A lush web of mangrove roots.

Mangroves are one of the last true natives in Florida, with an estimated 469,000 acres of mangrove forests found throughout the southern coastal areas of Florida. Because they thrive in saltwater and brackish water environments, they have made a comfortable home here since prehistoric times, and today, though there are more than fifty species of mangroves worldwide, three of these species can be found in the Florida Everglades.


Red Mangroves
Perhaps the most common and well known type of mangrove found in Florida, red mangroves have often been called “walking trees” because their “prop-roots” give them the appearance of standing right on the surface of the water. This species of mangrove grows close to the water’s edge and is distinguishable by its raised, reddish, tangled roots.

Black Mangroves
Black mangroves are less typical mangroves, because they prefer environments that are slightly raised up from water level. Black mangroves have finger-like projections called pneumatophores that appear around the trunk of the mangrove, making them easily identifiable in nature.

White Mangroves
White mangroves are difficult to identify because they look more like traditional rooted trees than the water lining greenery people are accustomed to when thinking of mangroves. White mangroves prefer even higher elevations than black mangroves, and unlike both red and black mangroves, white mangroves have no visible root system. White mangroves can be best identified by their leaves, which are elliptical, light yellow-green, and have two distinguishing glands around the base of each leaf.


Mangroves are extremely essential to all natural life in the Florida Everglades and throughout the rest of Florida. Mangroves provide food and shelter to many species in the Everglades, as well as provide protected areas for new mothers to raise their young. Mangrove branches also serve as nesting grounds for many of Florida’s important bird species, while their roots provide important attachment surfaces for many marine creatures as well. Without mangroves in the Everglades, many other plant and animal species who rely on them for various reasons would not be able to survive in this environment.

An airboat tour through the Everglades allows tourists and residents alike to experience the lush mangrove forests of Southern Florida up close. Visit Captain Mitch today of Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours and see for yourself why an airboat ride is truly the only way to experience the River of Grass to its fullest.