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Publication #FPS502

Rhizophora mangle: Red Mangrove1

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein, Andrew K. Koeser, Deborah R. Hilbert, and Drew C. McLean2


Red mangrove is one of the most valuable trees for creating and preserving shorelines in south Florida and the Caribbean Basin. Sediments depositing among their adventitious prop roots can eventually build up to create land. Seeds often germinate while they are still on the tree. After they drop, they float to a new location where they can begin growing in the sediment below the water surface.

Figure 1. 

Full Form—Rhizophora mangle: red mangrove

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Rhizophora mangle

Pronunciation: rye-ZOFF-for-ruh MAN-glee

Common name(s): red mangrove

Family: Rhizophoraceae

Plant type: tree

USDA hardiness zones: 10 through 11 (Figure 2)

Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round

Origin: native to Florida, the West Indies, Mexico, Central America, and South America

UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: native

Uses: reclamation plant

Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Height: 20 to 75 feet

Spread: 20 to 30 feet

Plant habit: round

Plant density: dense

Growth rate: moderate

Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: entire

Leaf shape: elliptic (oval)

Leaf venation: none, or difficult to see

Leaf type and persistence: evergreen

Leaf blade length: 1 ½ to 6 inches

Leaf color: dark to medium green on top, paler green underneath with tiny black dots that may require a hand lens to view

Fall color: no fall color change

Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 

Leaf—Rhizophora mangle: red mangrove

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Figure 4. 

Leaf, Under—Rhizophora mangle: red mangrove

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Flower color: white

Flower characteristic: emerges in clusters of 2-3 on leaf axils

Flowering: primarily early to mid summer, but also year-round

Figure 5. 

Flower—Rhizophora mangle: red mangrove

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Fruit shape: egg-shaped

Fruit length: 1 to 2 inches

Fruit cover: dry or hard

Fruit color: brown

Fruit characteristic: persists on the plant; often with a pencil shaped propagule emerging from the base, extending up to 11”, and varying from light green, dark green, to reddish brown

Fruiting: late summer to early fall

Figure 6. 

Fruit—Rhizophora mangle: red mangrove

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/branches: showy; no thorns

Bark: reddish brown and smooth, becoming gray and slightly fissured with age

Current year stem/twig color: brown

Current year stem/twig thickness: medium

Figure 7. 

Bark—Rhizophora mangle: red mangrove


Gitta Hasing

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Light requirement: full sun

Soil tolerances: acidic; alkaline; sand; loam; clay; moist to wet

Drought tolerance: low

Soil salt tolerances: high

Aerosol salt tolerance: high

Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: can form large surface roots

Winter interest: no special winter interest

Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding

Invasive potential: not known to be invasive

Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

Red mangroves will often be seen growing in shallow lagoons away from the land. Plants typically reach 20 feet tall, although old specimens 35 feet tall are not uncommon in undisturbed, natural settings. Plants respond poorly to pruning.


Koeser, A.K., Friedman, M.H., Hasing, G., Finley, H., Schelb, J. 2017. Trees: South Florida and the Keys. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.



This document is FPS502, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Revised December 2019. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.


Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department; Ryan W. Klein, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department; Andrew K. Koeser, assistant professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center; Deborah R. Hilbert, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; and Drew C. McLean, biological scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.