At maturity, this evergreen plant becomes a tangled mass of prop roots, aerial roots, branches and leaves. The brown, cylindrical fruits of these evergreen shrubs or trees are preceded by small, clustered, yellow-green, star-like flowers, with four leathery petals. The conspicuous prop roots growing down from the branches are usually the distinguishing characteristic of this mangrove which can grow to 30 ft. in height.
Mangroves do not propagate using ordinary means of dispersal. Rather, young plants begin to grow while still attached to the parent tree, developing into propagules that drop into the water and float along until an appropriate substrate is encountered. The germinating fruits of the Red Mangrove are quite spectacular: pendulous, torpedo-like seedlings dangling from the branches. The lima-bean–like pods of the Black Mangrove split almost immediately when the fruit falls. And though they are not as visible, the spongy-coated, ribbed fruits of the White Mangrove often sprout as soon as they are stranded in soil. Propagules of all three mangroves take root mainly in sheltered areas or on shorelines with relatively low wave energy, which can be found throughout much of the southwestern and southern parts of Florida.
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