Mangroves in Massachusetts {pics}

crazytboneDecember 3, 2011

I took a trip to Naples Florida this summer. While there, I visited a boardwalk through some black mangroves. I noticed these long, bean-like pods hanging from the trees. They were EVERYWHERE. I thought they might be seeds, and being the addict that I am, I couldn't resist bringing a couple back home to MA. After some light research, I soaked the pods for about 2 weeks in tap water, then used rice stone as a potting medium.

Here's the trio growing nicely in my window.

I can't believe they're actually growing!!!

The wide brown pot loses water volume VERY quickly, and one jar has an algae problem.

I took these pictures a few weeks ago. Now all 3 have clearly developed leaves, though the brown pot's leaves are noticeably smaller (but oddly, greener).

Yeah mangroves. :D

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a


I think you'll find these grow quite well in a traditional container, too.
They don't need to grow in aquatic conditions. Infact, I'd guess that the
greener leaves are due to the more rapid drying of the mix in the brown pot.

You might consider experimenting with drainage, and simply watering more often.


    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 4:23PM
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I've found that info in my research, but I've also read that they need MUCH more water than your average houseplant. That's why I went the jar route. I'll have to take more recent pictures. The two in jars seem to be turning more green, and are definitely bigger than the one in the brown pot.

Thanks for the advice though. :)

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 4:55PM
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Very cool!--I just ordered some Red Mangrove. So, they'll do okay with just freshwater (they don't need salt water?) Love growing tropicals from seed (citrus, jackfruit, etc.) Good luck with your little jungle!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 9:18PM
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I just use tap water. They seem to like it. Mangroves don't NEED salt water, they are just really good at tolerating it.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 11:09PM
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Crazybone, are you sure you don't have Red Mangrove? I have three Red Mangroves I picked up in Florida 3 years ago as propagules in a jar as well. I use water with a little salt added to replicate their natural habitat. I don't think they would grow as well in a drier medium, personally. During all my visits to Florida, I have never seen a Red Mangrove growing in fresh water, nor have I seen one growing any great distance from salt water.


    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 11:52PM
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I'm fairly certain that they're black mangroves because I collected them from a black mangrove...uh... grove. The hotel I stayed at in Naples was adjacent to a boardwalk through a black mangrove preserve. There were signs all over about it.

I think that mangroves grow exclusively in salt water because they have no competition. They don't require salt to grow, but they are very good at dealing with high salinity. They don't grow naturally in fresh water because 1) they rely on the ocean to spread their seeds, and 2) other plants are better than them at surviving in fresh water. Some people have started trying to use mangroves as natural water purifiers because they can tolerate (and thrive in) poor quality water.

I've also heard that a mangrove with some decent roots can replace a filter for your fish.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 9:02AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi CrazyT,

Very cool, good for you. I don't know anything about Mangroves, but do have some experience in growing things in water & in Hydro setups (w/Leca stones, etc.)

I use charcoal chips to combat algae. Aquarium grade, like from the pet store. Just a few chips here & there & it does well. Half teaspoon or so (a pinch or 2), depending on the size of the vessel.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 11:33AM
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Oh awesome. One of my jars looks totally gross with algae. I'll try it!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 12:25PM
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dellis326 (Danny)

I think that the salt issue would be something you really need to know about and not assume. Usually, Red Mangroves live on the coast line and Black Mangrove live behind them, it is possible the water is more brackish than sea water but it isn't fresh, salt may still be needed to maintain their osmotic balance or some other physiological function.

Tolerance to salt is what plants living on dunes and other ocean front land have to having salt water blown on them. That isn't the same as actually living in salt water. I would think that if fresh water was part of the natural environment for Mangroves they would be found growing way upstream of any salt or brackish water, which they aren't. It may be the difference between staying alive and thriving. Adding a small scoop of (uniodized) salt to the water seems like a pretty easy thing to do until you know for sure.

It is the silt under the mangroves that cleans the water, It absorbs many pollutants and heavy metals and when the trees are pulled up it is released back into the water, They would draw nutrients from a fish tank but not all of the toxins that build up in one, you'd still need a filter and your regular 10% minimum water change. Probably would look pretty cool though.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 12:50PM
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Have to say I agree with you totally. That is why I have always kept some salt in the water with my Red Mangroves. To me, there has to be a reason beyond greater dispersal of the propagule (not a seed, by the way; the seeds germinate on the tree) why they are not seen in fresh water. For me personally, I don't want to risk losing my plants when I know they are growing well with the salt added.


    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 1:17PM
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I am pretty certain you have Red Mangrove. Check the link below. The propagules of Black Mangroves look completely different. It may have been a Black Mangrove preserve, but with Red Mangrove present as well.


Here is a link that might be useful: Mangrove Propagules

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 1:24PM
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Ok you win.

Red mangrove it is. Crow is mighty tasty, by the way.

As far as the water filtering properties, there are many websites dedicated to their use as a natural filter. After being blocked for spam, I'm too impatient to find and link another one.

And as far as the salt goes - I'm growing mine without salt, and they seem pretty healthy and happy. I'll post more pics when I get into my classroom again tomorrow.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 4:32PM
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For those of of you that do add salt, what kind of salt do you use (common table salt?), and how much?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 1:52PM
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This is a picture of my mangroves I took this afternoon.

You can see, they all have pretty decent leaves.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 4:19PM
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I just used common sea salt, originally in concentration roughly similar to seawater, about 3.5%. Just my way of doing it, don't know what others do.


    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 8:49PM
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