Everglades National Park

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Black Mangrove and Pneumatophores, Everglades National Park, Florida- click to see full size image
These are black mangrove Trees. The black mangroves grow in the very shallow swamps away from the deeper water where the red mangroves grow. Black mangroves can be identified by their unique root structures called Pneumatophores. Pneumatophores are roots that grow straight up out of the ground and look like pencils or new shoots, however they are actually roots that grow up rather than down. In this photo they look like sticks that have been stuck into the ground. They serve as breathing structures that furnish oxygen for the roots that are submerged below water in the swamp. This photo was taken at the dryest time of the year, so most of the swamp has dried out around the base of the trees. Notice the leaf build-up around the roots, these leaves are trapped by the roots and will soon rot and become soil. This soil building by the leaf drop of the mangroves trees is a key part of the Everglades ecology. There is a constant cycle in the area where the sloughs meet Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico: Red Mangrove Trees grow up and serve as barriers that allow the open water to become a new swamp, then black mangroves grow and turn the swamp into dry land. Other less water tolerant plants can then move in and take over. Finally a hurricane come in and blows it all way and the process starts again.

To clarify, red mangroves have roots that grow down from branches into the water. Black mangroves have roots that grow up out of the water or mud into the air.

 


Text, photos, and images by Jess Stryker, unless noted. Copyright © Jess Stryker, 2008. All rights reserved.
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