Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans)

Black Mangrove pneumatophores

Salt Crystals on Black Mangrove

The Black Mangrove (formerly known as Avicennia nitida) looks more like a tree than the spidery Red Mangrove. The Black Mangrove has silvery green leaves and a dark trunk and can grow to 30-40 ft (9-12m) tall.  If you look closely at the leaves of the Black Mangrove, you may see crystals of salt on the surface. This is one of the ways the Black Mangrove has adapted to live in a saltwater environment that would kill other plants. They are able to take up saltwater, use the water, and put the salt out onto their leaves. Another way the Black Mangrove has adapted to its environment is by having roots that poke up out of the sediment instead of growing into it. These roots are called pneumatophores, which means “air breathing roots”. All plants need to breathe, so the Black Mangrove has developed these roots that act like snorkels, allowing the tree to get air, even though it is standing in seawater or soggy mud. 

Black Mangrove seeds and flowers

Black Mangroves have white flowers in spring and summer, followed by green tear-drop shaped seeds. The seeds fall off the plant and float on the surface of the ocean and sprout when they are washed up on suitable a shoreline. Unlike the Red Mangrove, Black Mangrove seeds do not grow in the water, so Black Mangroves are usually found higher up the shore than Red Mangroves. Black Mangroves are native to Bermuda, the Southern United States and the West Indies. Bermuda is the northern-most place in the Atlantic Ocean where this species is found. Black Mangroves are disappearing in Bermuda due to storm damage and coastal development; therefore they were listed as a Protected Species in 2011.

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