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Familie: Rhizophoraceae

prop axillary cyme

Rhizophora mangle

Red Mangrove

- introduction
- distribution
- cultivation
- roots
- leaves
- flowers
- fruits
- seeds
- trunk
- soil
- growth
- usage
Rhizophora mangle - Red Mangrove Soil
mud, sand

up to 35 meters

20 bis 30°C

up to 35cm

stilt roots

Found with
Avicennia bicolor
Avicennia germinans
Conocarpus erectus
Laguncularia racemosa
Rhizophora harrisonii
Rhizophora racemosa


Rhizophora mangle introduction
Rhizophora mangle introduction
Rhizophora mangle introduction
Rhizophora mangle, the Red Mangrove, is probably the best known mangrove of all mangroves and belongs to the "true mangroves".

The Red Mangrove is a strong and tough mangrove. Rhizophora mangle is able to grow in different climates a propagule from the tropical zone will grow in South Carolina USA it can handle changing humidity, salinity, air- and watertemperature and the propagule lasts for up to one year floating in the ocean, this characteristis made it able for Rhizophora mangle to colonize huge territories and to compete with other manrove species.

Territories that have been colonized by Rhizophora mangle sometimes drive out existing local mangrove species. Rhizophora mangle definitely is the most dominant mangrove on our planet.

The name Rhizophora mangle is Greek and Spanish. Rhizophora "rhizo" meaning root and "phora" meaning bear or carry in reference to the numerous prop roots growing from the trunk and branches of the mangrove. Mangle is Spanish and means mangrove, it is the word for this plant used by the Taino people of the Caribbean Islands.

Rhizophora mangle has quite a few common names, the most common one is Red Mangrove, most probably from its stilt roots that often have a reddish coloration. In America Rhizopora mangle is also called American Mangrove in South America Rhizophora mangle has numerous names changing from "apareiba", "mangle dulce", "mangle rojo" to "tiri wai" on the Fiji Islands.

Rhizophora mangle was described for the first time in 1753 by Linnaeus.


Rhizophora mangle distribution
Rhizophora mangle is the most widespread mangrove on our planet and colonized with its adaptability and long-living torpedo seeds many parts of the world. The Red Mangrove was als spread by human for coastal protection and aquaculture. Nowadays Rhizophora mangle grows between latitude 25 north and 35 south from the equator.

USA: Florida, Hawaii, Georgia, Lousiana, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas
Central America: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama
Caribbean: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, ...
South America: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Galapagos Islands, Guiana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela
West-Africa: Angola, Aquatorialguinea, Benin, Gabun, Gambia, Ghana, Guniea, Guinea Bissau, Kamerun, Kongo, Liberia, Mauretanien, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, Western Sahara
Oceania: Fiji Islands, Polynesia

Humans introduced Rhizophora mangle to Hawaii, the United States and Queensland in Australia.

Rhizophora stylosa was known as Red Mangrove for a long time.

Rhizophora mangle is the most common mangrove formation in the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.


Rhizophora mangle cultivation
Rhizophora mangle cultivation
Rhizophora mangle cultivation
Rhizophora mangle cultivation
Rhizophora mangle cultivation
Rhizophora mangle cultivation
Rhizophora mangle cultivation
Rhizophora mangle cultivation
Rhizophora mangle cultivation
Rhizophora mangle cultivation
Rhizophora mangle can be cultivated easily under simple growing conditions.

Soil & Fertilizer
One of the most important criterium for a successfull long term cultivation of Rhizophora mangle with magnificent growth is to offer the right kind of soil substrate with a numerous amount of the right nutrients. We recommend Mangrove Mud Special with which we have excellent results in growing Rhizophora mangle. Mangrove Mud Special is a long term fertilizer that can be used pure or stretched with sand. The less stretched Mangrove Mud Special is the more effective it is and the easier it is to cultivate Rhizophora mangle.

Air temperature
Air temperature should be around 20 to 30°C. For perfect growth we recommend to grow Rhizophora mangle at 26°C and above. Not at any time the temperature should fall below 10°C. Short temperature drops for a few days down to 15°C are normally no problem and can be handled pretty well.

Water temperature
Water temperature should be around 20 to 30°C. For perfect growth we recommend to grow Rhizophora mangle between 25-26°C. Not at any time the temperature should fall below 10°C. Short temperature drops for a few days down to 15°C are normally no problem for Rhizophora mangle and can be handled very well.

Humidity should be around a minimum of 50 percent. The higher humidity is the better it is for Rhizophora mangle and its growth. In most cases a sprayer hels to increas humidity if too low.

Light plays an important role in keeping Rhizophora mangle successfully and is directly related to the growth. Rhizophora mangle can be grown successfully by daylight during the whole year but shows its full glory at a daily light period of 10 to 12 hours. An additional or total illumination by an artificial lighting system is recommended, especially in places outside of the thirtieth latitude.

Artifical lights should have a light spectra of about 5000 to 13000 kelvins. Experience has shown that HQI (Metal Halide), high quality LED or HPS (High Pressure Sodium) lights in the just-called range achieved best results.

T5 fluorescent lamps also achieved good results in growth of Rhizophora mangle. We do not recommend T8 fluorescent lamps or other common plant lamps for Rhizophora mangle.

Growth field
Rhizophora mangle perfectly can be grown in any kind of aquarium whether seawater aquarium, brackish water aquarium or freshwater aquarium. The implementation of Rhizophora mangle into your tank is generally absolutely easy. Rhizophora mangle has rapid growth and filters nirite, nitrate and phosphate pretty good.

Mangrove Basin
Cultivation of Rhizophora mangle in a mangrove basin is very easy. Socialization with other mangrove species is no problem.

Due to the increased humidity in a vivarium Rhizophora mangle can be grown perfectly in a vivarium. Keep in mind cutting shoots right on time before the plants get too big.

Generally a tropical terrarium offers very good growing conditions for the Red Mangrove. Rhizophora mangle is a great appearance in such a tropical terrarium, especially near or in the water part of the terrarium. The animals of the terrarium will love the variety. Keep in mind cutting shoots right on time before the plants get too big.

Indoor plant / Conservatory
Due the robustness of the Red Mangrove, Rhizophora mangle is one of the few mangrove species that can be grown as an indoor plant on the window sill or in a conservatory. It is important that the Rhizophora mangle is grown from a seed to make sure that the Red Mangrove can adapt to the individual conditions like fluctuating temperatures or daylight hours from first day on. To support the growth during the whole year the temperature can be supported by a heating system and the daylight hours by artificial lights to make sure that the Rhizophora mangle receives 10 to 12 hours light daily.

Further details about keeping mangroves are shown detailed and clearly here

We recommend brackish water with a salinity of 10 to 25 grams not iodized sea salt per liter.

Rhizophora mangle plants are available on our webshop.

Rhizophora mangle seeds are available on our webshop.


Rhizophora mangle roots
Rhizophora mangle roots
Rhizophora mangle roots
Rhizophora mangle roots
Rhizophora mangle roots
Rhizophora mangle roots
Rhizophora mangle develops the for Rhizophora species typical stilt roots or prop roots. Stilt roots arises from the trunk or branches of the mangrove and grows toward the soil where the stilt root will develop an underground root system.

If the stilt root hits water instead of soil the stilt root will grow underwater toward the soil in the ocean or any other subject, a reef for example, that the stilt root can hold on to and be rooted to. Once the tip of the stilt root meets a subject it can root to many smaller roots develop to anchor themselves to the subject or in the soil.

Stilt roots have plenty functions, one of the most important one is to uphold the mangrove and ensure its growing space. The tides are rough, huge waves, strong winds, tropical storms such as typhoons and hurricanes do not make it easy for mangroves.

If a tropical storm comes along with all its power mangroves are the one to be hit first and then other plants, animals and humans, this is the reason why there have been just small damages in areas behind the mangroves during the tsunami in december 2004, mangroves protect the coast in many ways.

To ensure living in the tides it is important for Rhizophora mangle to develop numerous massive stilt roots.

Another important ability of stilt roots is to allow the exchange of gas in oxygen-poor sediments. Mangroves do often grow in mud which do almost not supply any oxygen at all. The arcuate stilt roots have countless lenticels which serve the gas exchange. Therefore the common name air roots.

Stilt roots of a fully grown Rhizophora mangle can be 5 meters long and extend in a radius of approximately 10 meters around the trunk.

As humans we often see the stilt roots above the water surface, the entangled root system of stilt roots under water can be huge and very impressive, it provides useful services to its environment. Countless animals, especially fish, seahorses, shells and crustaceans find shelter in the root system of mangrove stilt roots, they provide protection from predators and a perfect nursery.

Normally young Rhizophora mangle develop their first stilt roots with the age of 2 years.


Rhizophora mangle leaves
Rhizophora mangle leaves
Rhizophora mangle leaves
Rhizophora mangle leaves
Rhizophora mangle leaves
Rhizophora mangle is as any other mangrove an evergreen plant. Rhizophora species grow leaves in clusters at the end of branches, pollutants and excess salt in the cell sap are placed in older leaves which turn yellow and fall off.

The Red Mangroves normally grows along the equator in a habitat with tropical and subtropical climate therefore Rhizophora mangle is an evergreen tree that develops branches and leaves during the whole year.

The leaves are generally oppsosite and have an elliptic shape, the upper side is smooth and dark green the bottom is waxy and light green to yellowish with black spots.

The Red Mangrove has thick and leathery leaves which are up to 15cm, most of the time between 6 to 12cm and about 3 to 6cm wide.

The two stipules of each leafpair are green and serve as protection during the development of the leaves as soon as the leaves are fully developed and open the stipules turn brown and fall off.


Rhizophora mangle flowers
Rhizophora mangle flowers
The blossoms of Rhizophora mangle are small and inconspicuous as all blossoms of all Rhizophora species. The colors of the blossoms are usually white and yellow which car vary from pale yellow to dark yellow.

Rhizophora mangle develops compound inflorescence, the flowers arise from the axil.

Flowering of Rhizophora mangle varies by location.

First flowers are developed at the age of about 5 years.


Rhizophora mangle fruits
Rhizophora mangle fruits
Rhizophora mangle fruits
Rhizophora mangle fruits
Rhizophora mangle develops little brown fruits which are about 3-5cm small. A propagule vertically outgrows the fruit. The propagule starts to grow its sprout in the fruit while it is still on the mother tree.

Once the propagule is fully grown it seperates itself from the fruit and falls down on the ground where it immediately starts to develop roots. The edible fruit has fulfilled its purpose, normally after a few days the remaining fruit falls off the tree as well, crabs and bacteria will decompose it.


Rhizophora mangle seeds
Rhizophora mangle seeds
Rhizophora mangle seeds
Rhizophora mangle seeds
Propagules of Rhizophora mangle are easy to identify for beginners as they are brown at the lower third of the propagule. As most mangrove propagules the propagules of Rhizophora mangle are viviparous and already develop a sprout on the mother tree.

Rhizophora mangle normally develops propagules twice a year, the time when Rhizophora mangle develops them varies depending on the location.

Fresh propagules vary from dark green to light green and sometimes even with some reddish and brownish but there is one thing that all propagules of Rhizophora mangle have in common, the brown colored lower third which sometimes even seems to be a little woody.

The viviparous propagules can grow up to 40cm in lengh but most of the time do not exceed a lengh of 20 to 30cm and a diameter of 1 to 2cm.

The propagule outgrows the fruit towards the ground. The fruit holds the propagule until the viviparous propagule is fully grown and falls off the fruit into the ground. The propagule does not need to waste any time for sprouting and therefore directly starts to secure its place by developing 2 to 4 anchor roots.

Once the roots and especially the anchor roots are strong enough to ensure the survival from waves and strong winds the already developt sprout rapidly starts to grow bigger and soon to develop branches.

In case that the propagule does not fall into soil but water, into the ocean for example, or some waves carry away the propagule, the propagule has enough nutrients from its mother tree to survive for up to one year flooting in the ocean searching for a place to grow.

This characteristic allowed Rhizophora manlge to conquer the US, Central America, South America the Caribbean Islands as well as West Africa.


Rhizophora mangle trunk
Rhizophora mangle trunk
Typically Rhizophora mangle develops a one columnar stem which often soon starts to develop a few main branches. The wood of the trunk has a high densite which makes it very attractive for industrial, more details about the usage of Rhizophora mangle can be found at "usage".

During the live of a Rhizophora mangle tree the stem can reach a diameter of 20 to 50cm. The bark is greyish to brownish, thin when young and thick when older.

Colour and other details of the bark can vary from location and country.


Rhizophora mangle soil
Rhizophora mangle soil
Rhizophora mangle soil
Rhizophora mangle is tolerant to the substrate in which it grows as long as it is very nutritious and does not have much humus.

Rhizophora mangle prefers muddy, oxygen-poor soils along estuarine banks or along the coast. These muddy soils are flooded daily by the tides and are mostly inhabited by numerous crustaceans which decompose biomass such as falling leaves and blossoms quickly.


Rhizophora mangle growth
Rhizophora mangle growth
Rhizophora mangle growth
Rhizophora mangle growth
Rhizophora mangle grows along the coast and sometimes directly in the ocean near the coast, often in areas where rivers flow into the ocean, soils are very nutritious and where humidity is between 60 to 80 percent and the air temperature is between 25 to 30°C. Under these conditions Rhizophora mangle is able to reach a height of up to 35 meters but usually stops between 10 to 20 meters.

The height and growth of the Red Mangrove is in direct relation with the location where it grows and the existing growth conditions. This is why dwarfts of Rhizophora mangle are found in the very north and south of its habitat where the climate is colder and the daily sunlight hours vary in winter and summer while Rhizophora mangle near the equator can reach more than 30 meters in height.

Young plants develop the first branches already after a few pair of leaves and immediately grow in width. This is another feature of Rhizophora mangle to defend its position.

The propagule developes to a respectable litte tree withina a few years.


Rhizophora mangle usage
Rhizophora mangle usage
The wood of Rhizophora mangle has very high density and therefore very heavy wood which makes it very attractive as timber for boats, houses, fences and also fire wood.

Rhizophora mangle is still used nowadays to produce charcoal.

The tannins of Rhizophora mangle are used for dyeing leather.

An extract from the bark of Rhizophora mangle is obtained to reliably help against stomach ulcers.

Fortunately, people use Rhizophora mangle mainly for reforestation of destroyed coastlines as Rhizophora mangle grows quickly and reliably protects coasts from erosion. Rhizophora mangle furthermore helps fisherman and aquaculture by providing perfect breeding habitants through its root system for countless fish and crabs.
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