Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans): Some Intriguing Facts

Black Mangrove

The Black Mangrove, or Avicennia germinans, is a shrub or small tree that can grow up to 12 meters (39 feet) tall.

It belongs to the acanthus family, Acanthaceae, and it’s found in tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas and Africa.

The name “black mangrove” comes from the color of its trunk and heartwood.

Where Does Black Mangrove Grows?

Black mangroves are found on both the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts of the Americas, as well as on the Atlantic Coast of tropical Africa.

In the United States, they are common in coastal areas of Texas and Florida and are found as far north as southern Louisiana and coastal Georgia.

They thrive on sandy and muddy shores where seawater reaches.

How Do Black Mangroves Grow with Other Mangrove Species?

Black Mangroves are often found in their native range with the Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) and the White Mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa).

White Mangroves grow inland from Black Mangroves, which themselves grow inland from Red Mangroves.

The three species work together to stabilize the shoreline, provide buffers from storm surges, trap debris and detritus brought in by tides, and provide feeding, breeding, and nursery grounds for a great variety of fish, shellfish, birds, and other wildlife.

How Do Black Mangroves Reproduce?

Like many other mangrove species, Black Mangroves reproduce by vivipary, which means their seeds begin to germinate while still attached to the parent tree.

The seeds are encased in fruit, and when the fruit falls into the water, it reveals the germinated seedling.

What Are Some Unique Features of Black Mangroves?

Unlike other mangrove species, Black Mangroves don’t grow on prop roots.

Instead, they have special structures called pneumatophores that allow their roots to breathe even when submerged in water.

Black Mangroves are also hardy plants that can expel absorbed salt mainly from their leathery leaves.

The leaves often appear whitish from the salt excreted at night and on cloudy days.

What Is the Habitat of Black Mangroves?

Black Mangroves grow just above the high tide in coastal areas. They are less tolerant of highly saline conditions than some other mangrove species.

In warmer parts of their range, they can reach 10 to 15 meters (33 to 49 feet) in height, but they may be smaller shrubs in cooler regions.

The seeds germinate in midsummer but may be seen on the trees all year long. Once released, the seeds can remain viable for over a year.

What Are the Properties of Black Mangrove Wood?

The heartwood of Black Mangroves is dark-brown to black, while the sapwood is yellow-brown.

The wood is strong, heavy, and hard, but it can be difficult to work with due to its interlocked grain and oily texture.

The heartwood is less dense than the sapwood, which is unusual. The sapwood sinks in water, while the heartwood floats.

What Are Some Uses for Black Mangrove Wood?

Black Mangrove wood can be used for posts, pilings, charcoal, and fuel. However, the dry wood is subject to attack by marine borers and termites.

The bark of Black Mangroves contains tannins, which can be used to tan leather products.

Black Mangrove Characteristics

Care Level:Moderate
Growth Rate:Slow
Maximum Size:70′

Scientific Classification

Scientific Name:Avicennia germinans
Also Known As:Black Mangrove
Conservation Status:Least Concern

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